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Adebayor 'crucial to top four hopes'

Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood has said the form of striker Emmanuel Adebayor will be crucial to his side's hopes of a top four finish this season.

Crace: Put your money on Spurs finishing fifth

Adebayor, who scored the winner in Sunday's victory over Everton at White Hart Lane, has emerged as a key figure in Spurs' push for a Champions League place after having been frozen out under former boss Andre Villas-Boas.

Sherwood restored him to the first team after taking over and has been rewarded with seven goals in 12 games.

"He is in the mood already, he wants to enjoy his football and I'm giving him license to go on the pitch and express himself," Sherwood said of the Togo striker.

"He is a great example to the rest of the boys. He has been there and done it. He has done it on a regular basis and is one the players are looking up to. He's been magnificent from the moment I took over, both on the pitch and off the pitch.

"Manu is key for us, absolutely, as is [Hugo] Lloris. He made a great save early on in the game against Everton and that was crucial to giving us a platform to go on and get the win we needed. All our top players will be crucial for us."

Victory against Newcastle at St James' Park on Tuesday would be one of the nine wins the coach believes could be enough to secure a return to the Champions League.

The Magpies beat Tottenham 1-0 at White Hart Lane in November, and Sherwood said: "I watched the tape of their win. It was a good win for them, even though their keeper [Tim Krul] had five hands that day.

"[Alan] Pardew is doing a good job up there. It is an expectant crowd, and it's not easy for them. They have a few injuries at the moment and it's not ideal for them. We don't want this to be the game where they turn it around."

However, Sherwood offered a gloomy bulletin on the fitness of club record signing Erik Lamela, who he suggested was not close to a return because of a serious back problem.

Midfielder Sandro and defender Vlad Chiriches will miss the trip to St James' Park.

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