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Mar, 5, 2011

Redknapp: City will miss Toure

Harry Redknapp believes Tottenham and Manchester City are set for another duel for a Champions League berth - and that Kolo Toure's absence could turn the race for fourth in his favour.

Press Pass Extra: Spurs in action

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• Kolo Toure suspended over drug test
• Manchester City v Wigan preview
• Live on ESPN UK's Free Weekend

Spurs boss Redknapp is convinced Chelsea will push their way back into the Premier League top four, leaving Tottenham and City to compete for the fourth and final place in next season's Champions League, just as they did last year.

Redknapp's men narrowly won that race last season and he is more confident of repeating the feat now that key City defender Toure has been suspended following a failed drugs test, with Redknapp saying: "They'll certainly miss him."

"I don't know what he's supposed to have done,'' he said. "I wouldn't know one drug from another, to be honest with you, or what drugs he's supposed to have taken. If this sort of thing happens at the club and it's an important player, it can have an effect on the team, for sure. You don't know how it'll affect them but they'll certainly miss him.''

Toure was suspended from playing on Thursday after testing positive for a "specified substance'' - thought to be his wife's slimming pills - in the A sample of a recent drugs test. Both Toure and City have maintained their silence on the matter but the Daily Mail quoted Toure's minder Valer Gourizro as saying "'he takes responsibility but believes he's done nothing wrong".

One option open to the centre-back is to request his B-sample, taken at the same time as the first one, to be tested too. Should that come back positive, Toure, 29, would then get the opportunity to go before a personal hearing. If past doping cases in English football are anything to go by, Toure may have to wait until at least the end of the season before the hearing takes place.

Roberto Mancini's side once looked destined to fight for the title, but their recent poor form has left them two points ahead of Chelsea and three ahead of Redknapp's team having played one more match than both. Redknapp is convinced that Carlo Ancelotti's side are certain of a top-four position and thinks Tottenham and City are set to fight it out for fourth in a repeat of last year's contest between the two, which Spurs won.

"I've got a feeling it'll be between us and Man City,'' Redknapp said. "I don't see Chelsea not being in the top four. I felt before the Liverpool game, which they lost, that they could still win the league. If they had beaten Liverpool that day they would have been in a very strong position. They are a very strong outfit.''

Spurs were level on points with City at this time last year before they won eight of their remaining 11 matches - one of which came at Eastlands - to pip the north-west club to fourth. City have since spent around £150million on acquiring new players to beef up their squad for their domestic and Europa League campaigns.

Spurs have parted with a fraction of City's expenditure but have still managed to make it into the last 16 of the Champions League and remain serious contenders for a top-four place. That, Redknapp believes, is proof his squad is good enough to cope with what could be a hectic run-in if they beat Milan next week to reach the quarter-finals.

He said: "For us to be where we are in the league and to have had such a great season in the Champions League is a fantastic achievement so it hasn't affected us at all - we have managed to fight on both fronts and have done great.''

The Spurs boss also believes that after this year's lavish expenditure, there is a lot more pressure on Mancini to claim fourth.

"If they don't make top four it wouldn't go down well I'm sure,'' he said.

Spurs will leapfrog Chelsea back into fourth if they beat Wolves at Molineux on Sunday as the champions do not play their match against Blackpool until the following day. Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale are both likely to miss Sunday's match with their respective calf and back injuries, but Redknapp hopes to have the stars fit for Wednesday's showdown.

"I'm hoping Gareth will be fit for Milan,'' Redknapp said. "He feels okay. He has just got to push himself through it now. We'd love him back. We'll wait and see. Rafa is the same. He will not be fit for Sunday, but there is a chance he will be fit for Milan.''

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