x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Defoe adds to injury headaches at Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur's striker woes worsened after Jermain Defoe, the England forward, broke down during a light training session at Al Ahli's Rashid Stadium in Dubai.

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DUBAI // Tottenham Hotspur's striker woes worsened yesterday after Jermain Defoe, the England forward, broke down during a light training session at Al Ahli's Rashid Stadium.

Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, has brought his squad to the emirate for five days to revive tired bodies with warm weather and relaxation. But he was left concerned when Defoe appeared to suffer a recurrence of the ankle injury that has seen him miss half the season.

"Defoe has an injury again. He's had a problem with his ankle before and [yesterday] it didn't feel too good," Redknapp said.

"We're trying to finish in the top four and it's so close. But we've got so many players injured, people forget. We've got Tom Huddlestone, Younes Kaboul, Ledley King, [Jonathan] Woodgate, [Gareth] Bale, [Rafael] Van der Vaart. If you could pick a team of injured players it would be a fantastic team."

The Spurs strikers have struggled for goals in the league this year with Defoe yet to open his account and Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko having found the net in the league only eight times between them. Redknapp has instead been forced to rely heavily on the attacking threats of Van der Vaart and Bale, yet with the midfield pair being sidelined of late, Spurs' push for a top-four finish has stuttered.

Both should be back in time for Spurs' Champions League second leg clash with AC Milan on March 9, Redknapp said, adding his side must forget about the 3-1 defeat to Blackpool last week and focus on securing a return to Europe's elite competition next season.

"We had a terrible day at Blackpool, which was a massive setback for us," he said. "We had been playing so well and everything just went wrong on the day. But we have to come back from that now."

Redknapp also dismissed speculation that Alan Hutton, the Scottish right-back, is on his way out of the club. Reports in England suggested the defender had played his last game for the club after being involved in a dressing room argument following Spurs' 4-0 defeat to Fulham in the FA Cup.

"No. I never said a word to him after the Fulham game," Redknapp said. "Alan had a groin strain, but he's fit now. I changed it after Fulham; I brought [Vedran] Corluka back in and we went and won four games on the spin, went to Milan and won. But that's football: now Charlie [Corluka] is injured, so Alan's got a chance to get back in the team."

Spurs travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae