UEFA Europa League 4 days ago
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas praised Jermain Defoe after he moved within a goal of Martin Chivers' club record European haul in the win at Anzhi Makhachkala -- a performance seemingly not good enough to stop him returning to the bench this weekend.
The 30-year-old's first-half strike put Spurs on course for a 2-0 win in the Europa League and moved him one goal behind Chivers' long-standing record of 22.
Fans' favourite Defoe is fifth in the club's all-time scoring list and his goal in Russia was his seventh in four starts this season.
Such scoring form, though, has so far not been enough to persuade Villas-Boas to start him in the Premier League.
Big-money summer signing Roberto Soldado has been preferred as a lone striker and appears set to replace Defoe in the starting line-up in Sunday's return to league action against West Ham.
"We have to judge recovery and the fact that JD [Defoe] was involved today and Soldado wasn't,'' Villas-Boas said. "Everything will come into consideration. We have been extremely happy with the performances of both. It is a question of deciding what is best for the team.
"It was another great goal, a great finish. It's really good to see him out there again doing extremely well whenever he's given the opportunity. He is a great professional, has a great attitude and now he's only one off Martin Chivers so it's a real great achievement for him.
"I think he has the ambition this season to go even further up the ladder in this record tally behind Martin Chivers and as a all-time goalscorer so I think that plays highly in his motivation, definitely.''
Spurs will return to domestic action buoyed by their confident, if comfortable, win in Russia.
Defoe put the North Londoners ahead after 34 minutes, with Nacer Chadli sweeping home five minutes later to wrap up a 2-0 win.
Anzhi returned revitalised after the break but Spurs held strong, as their run without conceding in this year's competition stretched to a fourth match.
"It was a very good first half, where we were in control,'' Villas-Boas said. "It is always tricky because Anzhi looked to be very threatening on the counter-attack, attacking our spaces whenever we lost the ball. But I think through what we did in the first half we deserved the result.
"We lost a little bit of control in the second half, kept giving the ball away and they had the upper hand, but even so we were defensively sound.''
The only negative on the night was a knock sustained by Younes Kaboul, forcing him off 20 minutes from time at the Saturn Stadium.
The Frenchman has been plagued with injuries for the best part of 18 months and suffered another setback in Russia.
"It's a bit of a problem because of his injury in the knee it has taken him time for his body to adapt to new positions on his run,'' Villas-Boas said. "Because of that he's putting extra strain on his muscles and keeps getting small contractions that limit him finishing the games.
"At the moment it doesn't look very serious but it will force him to stop for a week or so. When we get him back we will give him a one-week or two-week preparation to be physically better.''
Kaboul was hurt as he attempted to keep a much-improved Anzhi at bay in the second half.
The introduction of reported Liverpool target Lacina Traore at half-time gave the hosts a clear boost, although they remain without a win in any competition this season.
"The main priority right now for us is the Russian Premier League, where right now we are at the bottom,'' Anzhi boss Gadzhi Gadzhiev said. "First we need to try and do our best there and then there will be the situation where you have choose between the Europa League and Russian Premier League. Then the Russian Premier League will be more important for us.''