Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp insists his side can break into the Premier League's top four this season but admits it will be tougher than ever with Manchester City an added threat.
Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have monopolised the top four places in the league for the past four seasons - and with it the lucrative UEFA Champions League qualification berths. Redknapp has tipped Manchester City, bankrolled by their Abu Dhabi billionaire owners, to make a major impact this season but is confident that with a few additions to his squad, Spurs can be challengers.
The boss of the North London side, who is eyeing Newcastle United defender Sebastien Bassong, saw his side lose 2-0 on Sunday to Hong Kong side South China to round off their summer tour of Asia. But Redknapp, who transformed a struggling Spurs when he took over last season, only just missing out on a place in the Europa League, says his squad has the quality to finish in the top four.
"We will try. It's going to be really difficult with the big four. You are going to have Man City. It will be a shock if they don't get in the top four," Redknapp said.
"Certainly, we have good enough players and we'll give it a good go. We are still looking to bring in a few players to improve the squad. I still feel we need one or two players to make us stronger, we should have a good chance. Bassong is a good player who I like but as far as I know the chairman hasn't made an offer," he added.
He said a deal was close for Darren Bent to move to Sunderland "but we have been close to doing a deal for the last two weeks." The England striker was forced to apologise last week after using Internet networking site Twitter to blast Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy for failing to rubber-stamp his proposed move.
Redknapp said the Asian tour, during which Spurs beat Hull City in Beijing, to lift the Barclays Asia Trophy, had been tough and some players were now heading away on international duty. "I don't know if the South China game was a game too far, because I changed it around a bit and gave the young lads a game. I fielded our strongest team in China and full credit to the opposition."
Spurs' Jermaine Jenas said the Hong Kong heat was the perfect preparation for the tough season ahead. "It was a tough game and we have a lot to learn from it. The important thing is we get a rhythm as the season is creeping up on us now. It's important the lads get their fitness right as the Premiership is a very intense league and playing in weather like that is going to improve our fitness."