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WhoScored: Zabaleta-Sterling a key battle

Tactics And Analysis 8 hours ago
Read
Apr 3, 2013

Defoe ruled out for three games

Jermain Defoe looks set miss Tottenham's next three games after his latest injury blow, but manager Andre Villas-Boas has insisted the club still have the firepower to end the season on a high.

Defoe has suffered a fresh injury to the leg muscle that kept him out of action throughout February, but Villas-Boas remains confident his lack of striking options will not derail his push for a top-four finish or his Europa League ambitions.

Villas-Boas has hinted that he is ready to play Gareth Bale in a central striking role in Thursday night's Europa League quarter-final clash with Basel at White Hart Lane, with the out-of-form Emmanuel Adebayor the only established striker available to him heading towards the final month of the season.

"Jermain has a muscle injury that will take him out for the next two games definitely and maybe Basel away," Villas-Boas said, meaning he will also miss Sunday's Premier League clash with Everton. "If he can't make Basel away, he should be fit for Manchester City.

"It is a big blow. It is on the same muscle that he had a small tear in last month, but it is on the other side now and obviously it is a big miss because he is a player who represents a lot for us and has shown tremendous quality this season.

"You have seen us play with [Clint] Dempsey and Bale up front and we have had periods in the season when our strikers have been injured and we have coped with it, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so.

"Anyway, there has been enough creation through our strikers. Gareth's inclusion as a striker has helped our ability to score more goals and all of them are very different. Every striker lives off goals and all want to score more, but if this is an area are we need to strengthen is a decision we will take at the end of the season.

"We have found comfort in Gareth as a striker and he is on a tremendous run. It could mean that we don't need to [sign any other strikers].

"Whether he plays up front tomorrow is a decision I still have to make, but obviously his run of form as a striker makes it a big possibility.

"Gareth has evolved in his career in different positions. At the moment he is enjoying playing as a striker and we are getting the best out of him as a striker. The more he plays there the more comfortable he will feel."

Villas-Boas went on to try and play down the lavish praise poured on Bale by Real Madrid ambassador Zinedine Zidane, who hailed the Welshman as the best player in the world on Tuesday and reignited rumours that the Tottenham talisman is destined for a move to the Spanish capital this summer.

"First of all, Zidane is not director of football at Real Madrid, so his comments are just a compliment," Villas-Boas stressed. "He was a great, great player and for him to come with such great words for Gareth is a tremendous compliment.

"Obviously, with the way that Gareth is playing is calling the attention of everybody and it is deserved. It has nothing to do with [Bale's future]. It is good for the player, for what he has achieved."

Midfielder Scott Parker joined his manager in playing down suggestions that Zidane's comments are a prelude to Bale's summer move to Real Madrid, as he believes his team-mate's elevated status on the world stage is justified.

"It's obviously brilliant for Gareth to have someone of that magnitude speaking highly of him, but as a club it is not a worry for us," Parker insisted. "We have a player in Gareth who has done brilliant for us. We just see him as our player, a Tottenham player, and hopefully he can maintain the form he has done."

Villas-Boas confirmed that keeper Hugo Lloris has returned to training after he missed the win at Swansea on Saturday, but Brad Friedel is expected to continue his position as Tottenham's first choice keeper for Europa League games.

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