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Mertesacker: I've never played in back 3


Redknapp: Stars will stay

Harry Redknapp does not expect Tottenham to lose any of their big-name stars in the summer, even if they fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.

• Match Preview: Tottenham v Blackpool

Spurs are now seven points behind Manchester City, who occupy fourth, meaning they need City to drop points in three of their final four games of the campaign.

As a result the likes of Gareth Bale have been linked with moves away from White Hart Lane, with Friday's papers suggesting City are ready to offer £30 million plus James Milner for the Wales international.

Redknapp was asked if such stories were a concern, to which he replied: "Not at all. When they came here they weren't in the Champions League, and when I arrived they weren't anywhere near Champions League football, and they were still playing for the club.

"It's up to them, all the players we want to keep are on long contracts, so there's not a possibility of us wanting to sell our best players. It's out of my hands to make those decisions, but I think we're all singing from the same hymn sheet.

"You need to improve if you want to keep moving forward. To get into the Champions League is getting tougher and tougher. Liverpool will get better, Everton aren't far off it this year, Aston Villa have the players. But certainly you can see Liverpool really improving, and then there's Manchester United, Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea."

Redknapp also refuted claims that he currently has a rocky relationship with winger Aaron Lennon: ''Aaron's got a good future. I've never had any problems with him. I must have missed them. He's been as good as gold, not a problem."

Spurs face Blackpool this weekend, and stand-in left-back Vedran Corluka is doubtful with a hamstring injury. Regular left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto is also missing, while Tom Huddlestone will not feature due to an ankle problem.

But Redknapp feels playing in next season's Europa League will severely hamper Tottenham's chances of making it into the Champions League the following year.

''Teams who get into the Europa League want to get out of it,'' Redknapp said. ''Half of them put reserve teams out in the early stages and it's difficult to play every Thursday and Sunday. It disrupts things. We didn't have European football last year and we finished fourth. That was a big advantage to us.

''If there are teams around you in the Europa League, you want to keep them in it. If we were in it next year, and you were one of the other clubs around us, you'd want us to stay in that competition because it takes its toll. I wanted Man City to stay in it this year because they were playing every Thursday night, slipping off to Azerbaijan to play a team out there. It's unreal, but that's how that competition is.''

He thinks that one or two additions to his squad would help fight off the other seven contenders that he thinks will be vying for a top-four finish next year.

Redknapp said: ''Man City are going to spend God knows what this summer now that they have Champions League football to offer their players. Arsenal are going to be in it, Chelsea too, and Man United. We did it last year but it was so tough. Liverpool are going to be right in it again so it's getting tougher. Aston Villa and Everton have the players to come close too.

''We need to try and improve, juggle the squad about a bit and see if we can keep pushing and trying to do it.''

Spurs will have the chance to move back into fifth place if they beat Ian Holloway's strugglers.

''Our chance hasn't gone, but we need four wins really,'' he said. ''We need to try and win them all and Manchester City lose a couple.''


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