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Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Wednesday, 6 April 2011 19:08 UK

Aaron Lennon refuses to be 'scapegoat' for Spurs rout

Aaron Lennon
Lennon was initially named in the Spurs team

Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon says he does not want to be made a "scapegoat" for his side's 4-0 Champions League defeat by Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Lennon was initially named in Spurs' starting line-up but was withdrawn close to kick-off at the Bernabeu.

"Believe me this is one game I did not want to miss and still devo [devastated] now," the England international wrote on Twitter.

"Will not be made a scapegoat saying they only knew just before kick-off."

He added: "I fell ill on Sunday morning where the medical team put me on antibiotics, but only got worse before Tuesday."

The comments appear to contradict Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, who had suggested Lennon fell ill and was withdrawn just before kick-off.

Speaking immediately after the quarter-final first-leg defeat, Redknapp said: "It was a difficult night, wasn't it?

"We lost Aaron Lennon just as the teams were walking on to the pitch. He didn't feel well enough to play, so we had to change that straight away."

No-one is blaming Aaron for not playing. He's been fantastic for us. I've got no problems with the kid whatsoever

Harry Redknapp

Coming back to the issue in an interview on Wednesday, Redknapp defended the England international, insisting Lennon should not shoulder any blame for Tottenham's defeat.

"No-one is blaming Aaron for not playing. He's been fantastic for us. I've got no problems with the kid whatsoever," Redknapp told talkSPORT.

"I was sitting in the dressing room before the match, looking at his face. He's normally chirpy before he goes out and I looked and he didn't look well.

"I had to make a decision. It wasn't Aaron's fault. He didn't bottle anything. The kid wasn't well. No-one's made him a scapegoat."

Lennon's late withdrawal meant a last-minute tactical change, with Jermaine Jenas coming into midfield, Gareth Bale switching to the right wing and Luka Modric moving to the left.

Spurs conceded a goal to Real striker Emmanuel Adebayor from a corner within five minutes, and were reduced to 10 men when Peter Crouch was sent off after 14 minutes.

Second-half goals from former Arsenal striker Adebayor, Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo completed the rout.

Redknapp said he was right to select Lennon in his original line-up, despite the fact the player had been on antibiotics since Sunday.

"Aaron hadn't been feeling well during the day," Redknapp added. "The doctor came to me and said 'look, he is on antibiotics, I think he will be OK'.

"I had to make a decision. He was key to everything we wanted to do yesterday, him and Gareth Bale were really where we were looking to cause problems to Real Madrid.

"He's been fantastic for me since I've been at the club and I was desperate for him to play but do I take the chance of sending the kid out when he doesn't feel he's got any strength or energy to go and play in a game like that?

"So I said 'look, I know how much you want to play but you can't take the chance here if you don't feel you can go out and do yourself justice' and that was it."

Tottenham officials said Lennon will be assessed when he and the rest of the squad return to training on Thursday.

The Londoners face Stoke in the Premier League on Saturday, before the return leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Real four days later.

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see also
Redknapp rues Crouch sending off
06 Apr 11 |  Europe
Real Madrid 4-0 Tottenham
05 Apr 11 |  Europe
Spurs worried by Lennon progress
14 Mar 10 |  Tottenham
Lennon out for further six weeks
01 Mar 10 |  Tottenham

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