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League is top priority - Redknapp

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp
Redknapp did not enjoy what he saw as Spurs almost suffered a catastrophe

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp is ready to write off his team's FA Cup hopes as they battle to avoid relegation.

Spurs progressed to the Carling Cup final on Wednesday, but only after flirting with a shock aggregate defeat as they trailed 3-0 at Burnley.

Redknapp will send a weakened team to face Manchester United in the FA Cup on Saturday to protect senior players.

"We've got some tough games, we've a game at Man United that really is so secondary to me now," he said.

"We're in a relegation battle and I can't risk Jamie O'Hara, Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson at Old Trafford."

Redknapp, who took over at Spurs in October, reiterated his desire to add toughness to a squad he described as "a mish-mash".

606: DEBATE
modspurs

"We need stronger players in here because we're not mentally or physically strong enough," he said

"It's a challenge and it can't get any worse. When I took over we had two points from eight games but Stoke (on Tuesday) is a massive game for us."

Redknapp was also critical of the past regime at the club, claiming that he has inherited an imbalanced squad which is short of cover in key areas.

Against Burnley, Redknapp was left with no option but to hand 22-year-old goalkeeper Ben Alnwick a debut and the former Sunderland trainee is set to start against United in the FA Cup despite making two key errors in the 3-2 defeat by Burnley.

"He's the only goalkeeper I've got and this is a football club that has been put together by I don't know who and I don't know how," Redknapp stated.

"It's a mish-mash of players with people playing where they want to play. It's scary - I have to go to Old Trafford with that group of players that we had tonight.

"If Alex (Ferguson) is listening, I'm really going to send a real mish-mash team up there. I hope it doesn't upset the fans, but we played extra time and we're out on our feet a little bit.

"The lads who didn't play tonight will play and I'm going to rest the key players who played tonight because I can't afford to lose any more to injuries."

After the 6-4 aggregate victory which secured a Wembley final against Manchester United, Redknapp also hinted that he is close to running out of patience with several players.

"I had to play a few lads who hadn't played too much and they didn't do themselves a lot of good really to be honest with you," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The players should be fighting for their lives to stay at a great football club like this. Their future is on the line, they need to perform to stay at the club."

Burnley manager Owen Coyle admitted he was devastated by the manner of his team's defeat at Turf Moor.

"I don't think there's any doubt it's certainly gut-wrenching," said Coyle.

"All credit to the players. They were magnificent from start to finish. Yes, they should be disappointed, but they can hold their heads up high.

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see also
Burnley 3-2 Tottenham (agg 4-6)
21 Jan 09 |  League Cup
Carling Cup as it happened
21 Jan 09 |  League Cup
Carling Cup photos
21 Jan 09 |  Football
Redknapp relief at cup turnaround
06 Jan 09 |  League Cup
Tottenham 4-1 Burnley
06 Jan 09 |  League Cup


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