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Apr 19, 2013

Bale expected to return against City

Tottenham Hotspur boss Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed that he expects Gareth Bale to be fit to play in Sunday's Premier League game against Manchester City.

• Ade to target City infighting
• Kidd: We only fight for trophies
• Blog: Why Spurs no longer laugh at City

Bale has returned to training in the last couple of days after recovering from the ankle injury he sustained in the Europa League clash with FC Basel two and half weeks ago.

And Villas-Boas said he would not be taking a gamble by naming the Welshman in his starting line-up for the crucial game against champions City at White Hart Lane.

"Gareth has made good progress from the start of the week to training with the team for the last two days," Villas-Boas said. "He has a good chance to play. This is the decision I still have to make. It should be no problem."

There had been fears that Bale would not feature again this season, but his speedy recovery is a huge boost to Tottenham's hopes of continuing their push for a top-four finish.

The North Londoners lost momentum in their race for a Champions League finish after defeats to Liverpool and Fulham were followed by a home draw against Everton, and they are currently behind Arsenal and Chelsea in the table.

That means Bale's return provides a timely boost, and his confidence may been fuelled by the news that he has been nominated for both the PFA Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards.

Villas-Boas believes his star man could take the silverware when it is awarded next weekend, saying: "It has been a great, great season for Bale.

"I think he is a serious contender, and all of us would be extremely happy if he was to win it.

"Obviously, 'Gazza' has had an outstanding year, along with other players. He is such a young player, having a tremendous impact on the league this year: great goalscoring form, [and he] has played in so many positions with such success. His maturity and responsibility are outstanding.

"We have also seen a great season from Van Persie, from Luis Suarez, and there are other names included. Gareth has had some spectacular moments."

Villas-Boas went on to express his surprise that Manchester City defender Matija Nastasic was not nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year prize.

"He has been one of the great players of the season," he said. "For his first year in the Premier League, he has been outstanding."

Villas-Boas said striker Jermain Defoe is also fit to return after sitting out the last three games with a muscle problem, but winger Aaron Lennon is a major doubt for the game against City because he has yet to train with the first team after also sustaining an injury at home to Basel.

"There has been a recovery from Defoe - he has trained with the team all week," Villas-Boas added. "Lennon has been recovering progressively, but he hasn't trained with the team yet. There is still only one more session to go, so we will see."

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