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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 4 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 26, 2006

Karadas poised to return - at the back

Harry Redknapp is ready to use striker Azar Karadas as an emergency centre-back in Portsmouth's FA Cup fourth-round tie against Liverpool on Sunday.

Despite spending £12million this month on new players, Norwegian striker Karadas could be set for a key role against the likes of Peter Crouch and Fernando Morientes, after failing to impress as a forward earlier this season.

Brought in on a season-long loan from Benfica, by Redknapp's predecessor Alain Perrin, his Portsmouth career began badly when he was axed from the team after three games and targeted by disgruntled supporters.

But Karadas has played at the back for Portsmouth's reserves and if Dejan Stefanovic, Noe Pamarot and Linvoy Primus are all ruled out against the European champions, as seems likely, Redknapp would consider using him.

'He is someone I will have to look at if things stay as they are,' admitted the Pompey boss.

'We have injuries galore and it is looking a struggle to get a team out.

'But Karadas was a centre-half in his early days in Norway and is comfortable there, where you need someone who can head the ball.

'I saw him in the reserves at West Ham last week and he did well.'

Karadas was less impressive as a striker, becoming the first man to launch a shot out of the ground when Portsmouth played a reserve-team match at Southampton, during Redknapp's spell at St Mary's.

The 24-year-old was axed by Perrin after merciless verbal abuse from supporters and it is a surprise he has come into contention at all.

Yet despite buying Zimbabwe striker Benjani Mwaruwari, Pamarot, Sean Davis, Pedro Mendes and Dean Kiely, and taking Emmanuel Olisadebe on a short-term deal, Redknapp is finding his options limited for Sunday's match.

Pamarot is out with a thigh injury, left-back Andy Griffin will be missing through suspension after collecting five yellow cards, and skipper Stefanovic is rated highly doubtful due to an ankle knock and bruised jaw bone sustained in last Saturday's 5-0 defeat at Birmingham.

Strikers Benjani and Lomana LuaLua are both playing in Egypt at the African Nations Cup, and Primus has not trained since damaging a groin muscle against West Ham on Boxing Day.

Two years ago, Pompey knocked Liverpool out at the fifth round of the FA Cup with a winner in a replay from Richard Hughes.

The Scotland midfielder admits he hardly recognises himself from film of the event.

He said: 'I saw the clip again the other day and wouldn't have been able to tell you the build-up until then.

'I recall now it was Eyal Berkovic and Yakubu who did the damage, but when I saw this long-haired vision come in from the left and tuck the ball away with aplomb I thought, on first sight, it was Patrick Berger - but then realised it was me.'