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Harry Redknapp relieved after Spurs win at Sunderland


Redknapp predicts six-way battle for fourth

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp admitted his side were fortunate to win at Sunderland after falling behind in a manner that left him far from pleased.

In the absence of William Gallas, who left the field to change his boots, Asamoah Gyan opened the scoring.

"Gallas had an injection in his ankle before the game and they bandaged his ankle. He was in pain and felt his boots were too tight," said Redknapp.

"I wasn't best pleased, and we were lucky we came back and won."

Having regained fourth spot from Chelsea by virtue of the win, Spurs now travel to Italy for their last-16 Champions League clash with Milan.

Redknapp expects Rafael van der Vaart, who missed the game at the Stadium of Light with a calf injury, to return for that encounter, but has virtually ruled out Peter Crouch.

Gareth Bale has been sidelined since late January with a back injury he picked up during Tottenham's 1-1 Premier League draw at Newcastle.

"Gareth is not too far away," said Redknapp.

"The specialists have seen it, he's had an epidural injection. Peter Crouch has had the same problem and he is fine - in fact, his back looked a lot worse on the scan.

"He shouldn't be too long, but Tuesday may be just a bit too soon for him. But Van der Vaart should be okay."

Redknapp felt that Bale, in particular, would be keenly missed if he failed to recover after his outstanding displays against Inter Milan earlier in the competition.

He said: "You saw what Gareth did against Inter Milan, when he terrorised them, and that would be in their minds an awful lot, I'm sure.

"Everybody in Italy talks about Bale - I went over and watched a game and everyone was asking me: 'Is Bale fit?' He would scare them to death."

Against Sunderland, however, it was Tottenham who had to weather a scare, due largely to Gallas's decision to switch his boots for an older, looser pair in order to accommodate the bandaging around his foot.

The replacement footwear was "still yellow, like a pair of bananas on his feet", noted Redknapp wryly.

Having fallen behind on 11 minutes, Spurs equalised a minute before the break through Michael Dawson, who powered home a header from Steven Pienaar's corner.

They went on to secure their third consecutive Premier League victory courtesy of Niko Kranjcar, who went on to volley in an attempted clearance by John Mensah just before the hour.

But Tottenham's victory perhaps did not owe quite as much to good fortune as their manager initially suggested.

Redknapp effectively admitted as much when he observed of Kranjcar: "He spends time practising his shooting after training, and it pays off for him - it's not luck.

Bruce slams Sunderland defending

"He works hard and he's got great technique. We had an offer of seven to eight million for him from Werder Bremen in the transfer window, but I didn't want him to leave."

Tuesday night's clash with Milan is now firmly on the horizon, and Redknapp stated that his side will travel to Italy in a positive frame of mind about both their domestic and European prospects.

"It's great to go there on the back of three [Premier League] victories," he added.

"It's going to be a tough ask to make the top four again this year, there's six teams pushing for it. But I think we've got a good chance."

Redknapp's ebullient mood afforded a stark contrast with his frustrated Sunderland counterpart, Steve Bruce, whose side crashed to a third consecutive league defeat.

The former Manchester United defender was particularly aggrieved about the manner in which Sunderland conceded the equaliser.

Bruce said: "Titus Bramble switched off, the goalkeeper should do better, and it cost us.

"After all the good play we had, it gave them a lifeline, and that's a big frustration.

"Of course people score from set-pieces when the delivery is good, but we should defend better. If you can't defend a set-piece, you'll come unstuck.

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Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham
12 Feb 11 |  Premier League

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