Spurs skipper eyes top four
Tottenham Hotspur captain Ledley King believes a top four finish in the Premier League is a realistic target for his team.
Spurs produced the shock result of Saturday's opening day of the 2009/10 campaign when they beat Liverpool, last season's runners-up, 2-1 at White Hart Lane. Now they will want to prove that result was no fluke in Wednesday's match away to a Hull side that gave Spurs' London rivals Chelsea a scare before going down 2-1.
Centre-back King said the fact few pundits had predicted great things for Spurs this season had done Harry Redknapp's men a favour. "It has been quiet here. There has not been too much talk about us and the top four," he said. "For the last few seasons everyone has been talking about us doing this and that.
"Now it has been nice to say nothing and just work hard. With the quality we have got, we can break into the top four." However, King added: "We realise how tough it is after the last few seasons, but I think not being in Europe could help us."
The 28-year-old's persistent knee problems have led him to cut down on his training sessions and Wednesday's match may be too soon for King to play again. "I would love to play on Wednesday, but I might have to look at the bigger picture," King said. "I could probably force it, but at the same time we have to be sensible."
So King's fellow centre-half Sebastien Bassong, who scored the winner against Liverpool on his debut, could now find himself alongside Vedran Corluka at the KC Stadium with both Jonathan Woodgate (groin) and Michael Dawson (Achilles) still injured.
"We can play at White Hart Lane, now we have to prove we can play away on a more consistent basis," said Redknapp. "It is going to be an open league this year. We just have to keep going and see where it takes us."
Hull boss Phil Brown was encouraged by his side's opening day display but knows the Tigers need more forward firepower if they are to avoid being drawn into another relegation battle. "We know we need more goals and we hope the arrival of a new striker will solve that problem for us. Hopefully we will bring someone in quickly."
Chance to bounce back
Portsmouth travel to Birmingham City on Wednesday with South Africa midfielder Aaron Mokoena saying uncertainty over Sulaiman Al-Fahim's stalled takeover for the club cannot be used as an excuse for poor performances. The south coast side suffered a 1-0 loss to Fulham on Saturday, a match watched from the stands at Fratton Park by Al-Fahim who has insisted his bid for the south coast club remains on course.
But Mokoena, who joined Portsmouth on a free transfer from Blackburn Rovers, said the team had to forget that the likes of England trio Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Glen Johnson had all been sold and concentrate on the task at hand against City. "It is going to be difficult this season, but we are ready," he told the Portsmouth News.
"There has been a lot of speculation off the field, but as players we try not to let what is happening off the field affect us at all. We know we have to do the business on the field. That is our job." Mokoena added: "We could never use it as an excuse. We have professional senior players here."
City pushed champions Manchester United before losing 1-0 on their return to the top-flight last weekend and manager Alex McLeish said: "We have to use that as a confidence booster. We can go into the next game with the evidence of a great performance."
Wednesday's other matches see United away to newly-promoted Burnley while Liverpool will look to bounce back against Stoke.