Welsh winger Gareth Bale is likely to miss Tottenham's UEFA Champions League clash with AC Milan due to an ongoing back injury, said Spurs boss Harry Redknapp. Tottenham's 2-1 win over Sunderland means they will head to the San Siro for their last 16 clash on Tuesday on the back of three successive Premier League victories.
Rafael van der Vaart, who missed the game at the Stadium of Light with a calf injury, should be fit. But Bale, despite recovering well from his back problem, is unlikely to make the trip. Redknapp said: "Gareth is not too far away. He's not going to be fit, I don't think, for Tuesday, but he's not too bad.
"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."
After sealing a come-from-behind victory at Sunderland to climb up to fourth in the Premier League, Redknapp immediately turned his attention to the mouth-watering visit to the San Siro Stadium. It's an eagerly anticipated first-leg meeting that will take place without the influential Bale, who played such a central role in ensuring the London club upset the odds to qualify from the group stage.
"He's got that ability to terrorize defences and, that would be in their minds after what he did to Inter Milan in the group stages," Redknapp said of his prize asset, who has had pain-killing injections in an attempt to find a cure for the injury. "Everybody in Italy was asking me when I was out there 'is Bale going to be fit,'" Redknapp added. "He'd scare them to death. He's not too far away, but he's not going to be fit for Tuesday."
Bale's loss is offset by the return of van der Vaart, although Peter Crouch remains a doubt with a back problem. Steven Pienaar, substituted at the Stadium of Light with a knee problem, hopes to be fit. Tottenham denied Sunderland a chance to regain sixth place in the Premier League thanks to their latest comeback which Redknapp hopes won't go un-noticed in Milanese circles.
He added: "We've come from behind so many times this season, and we've shown great character again. I went last week and watched Milan, they're a dangerous side and the front three have all got goals in them. It'll be a big test but I think we've got a good chance."
Spurs became only the sixth club in Premier League history to pass the 1000-point mark as they stretched their impressive run to just one defeat in 15 league games. A first victory on Wearside for almost a decade means Tottenham have earned 20 points from losing positions this season to keep them well in the hunt for a second consecutive top four finish as they leapfrogged defending champions Chelsea.
Michael Dawson's header on the stroke of half-time cancelled out Asamoah Gyan's early strike for the hosts who endured a third consecutive league defeat for the first time under manager Steve Bruce. Man-of-the-match Niko Kranjcar fired a memorable winner early in the second half to make it three straight league wins for the visitors who travel to Lombardy in prime form.
Sunderland have a two-week break before their next game to give them a much-needed chance to recharge batteries and welcome back injured players. The Wearside club have lost four of their last six games at home to hit their hopes of a top six finish, and Bruce said: "It's a flat dressing room, but we're still on the verge of a very good finish in the league.
"We could have signed off with a positive result but at least we've got chance to recharge a few batteries."