Harry Redknapp was today praying he would not lose Tom Huddlestone for Tottenham Hotspur's UEFA Champions League double-header against Inter Milan as officials review video of the incident to decide an outcome.
European football's governing body were this afternoon reviewing footage of Spurs' Group A victory over FC Twente on Wednesday night, during which Huddlestone appeared to elbow Austria forward Marc Janko in the face.
Should they decide to charge Huddlestone with violent conduct, the 23-year-old could be hit with a minimum two-match ban, ruling him out of the October 20 trip to Inter and the return fixture at White Hart Lane two weeks later.
Spurs are already without key midfielder Rafael van der Vaart for the crunch game at the San Siro after he was sent off against Twente, and the loss of Huddlestone would further damage their hopes of building on an impressive start to life in football's elite club competition.
Janko claimed Huddlestone deliberately "smashed his arm into my face" and left him with a nosebleed while the pair tussled during the first half of Wednesday's game. Huddlestone was not punished over the incident on the night - indeed, he was being fouled by Janko at the time and the free-kick went the other way - but UEFA may decide to take retrospective action.
Manager Redknapp today revealed he had watched footage of the challenge and acknowledged Huddlestone had made contact with his elbow but cast doubt on whether there was any intent.
He said: "I have looked at it. I'd be a liar if I sat here and said I hadn't seen it, wouldn't I? I know some managers do that. It's not like Tom, he's not at all an aggressive player, he's a fantastic footballer and a great guy.
"It looked like he caught him with an elbow. Whether he meant to do it, I'm not so sure. Hopefully, nothing will come of it and we can all move on."
Janko said: "If you look at the TV pictures, you will see he clearly hit me on purpose. He smashed his arm into my face. Then when I showed the ref my bleeding nose, he smiled at me."
Huddlestone could captain Tottenham in tomorrow's Barclays Premier League clash with Aston Villa if Ledley King fails to recover sufficiently from his midweek Champions League exertions. Spurs have struggled this season to balance their domestic and European commitments, winning just two of their six league games.
"It's a big game tomorrow with Villa, a tough game against a very good team," said Redknapp of tomorrow's opponents, who are under new management after Gerard Houllier's arrival. "Martin O'Neill built a very, very good side there, did a great job.Now Gerard Houllier's come in with Gary McAllister and I'm sure they'll carry on that great work."
Redknapp welcomed former Liverpool boss Houllier's return to English football. "He's a great football man so it's good to have him back in the game," he said of the Frenchman. "It was a big shock Martin left, for sure.
"But they've got a very, very good group of players there, who last year were always pushing for a top-four finish. They've been a top-six team for the last couple years and they'll be right there again this year, I'm sure."
Redknapp must decide how many changes to make for tomorrow's game and is considering a recall for misfiring winger Aaron Lennon, who he axed in midweek.
"I may have to change one or two so we'll have a look at it because we have had a tough week," he said. "Aaron picked up an injury in training but nothing too bad, so hopefully he will be available."