Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, is to follow the example of Arsene Wenger and give youth a chance in tonight's Carling Cup north London derby clash against Arsenal. Wenger has long seen the Carling Cup as a platform to blood youngsters and give squad players a run out.
It is a measure of Tottenham's progress under Redknapp that Spurs no longer see the competition as one of their priorities now that, like Arsenal, they are involved in the Champions League. So Redknapp is more interested in how Sandro, his summer recruit from Brazil, or Giovanni Dos Santos, the young Mexican, perform than the result. Redknapp said: "Because we have a big Premier League game against West Ham [United] coming up then the Champions League against FC Twente next week then another tough league game against Aston Villa, I have to give some of my players a rest.
"That's just how it has to be. But, like Arsenal have done over recent years, the Carling Cup gives me the chance to give younger players a chance and also give some of my fringe players a much-needed game. "I am really excited to see what Sandro can do. I can't lie and say he is a player I have unearthed. "His arrival from Brazil is down to our scouting staff. But the boy has a lot of talent. You don't get into the full Brazil squad at such a young age if you are a mug.
"He is not the usual sort of Brazilian midfielder though. He is a tall player who runs bit strange. He is not, say, a Robinho. "If you want a comparison he looks, runs, passes and plays a bit like the famous Socrates. If he can be half as good as him then we really will have a player on our hands. But we need to find out if he can cut it and this is a game that gives us a chance." Three years ago, a strong Spurs side beat a second-string Arsenal 5-1 in the semi-final of the competition and went on to lift the trophy. But Redknapp said: "That was before I was here but it was actually a bad thing for the club. After that the club couldn't win a game, which eventually led to me coming here."
He added: "For all that, given the rivalry of both our clubs, I am still sure it will be an exciting occasion for both sets of fans. And while we will be giving some younger players a chance, we will still give it a go and if you consider that we will have the likes of David Bentley and Wilson Palacios in our team, then I don't think you can call it a weak team. It actually shows that we now have the sort of strong squad to compete with the best even when we don't play all our best players."