Reinforced Spurs ready for Leeds test
Harry Redknapp has been given a timely boost as he attempts to steer Tottenham through a successful FA Cup campaign while maintaining their challenge for a top four finish in the Premier League.
The Spurs manager has made no attempt to disguise the fact that a place in next season's UEFA Champions League is his first priority. And whilst he is well aware of the benefits of a successful Cup run, the last thing Redknapp wanted was for his side's fourth round tie to go to a replay following the 2-2 draw with Leeds at White Hart Lane.
Since that game, Redknapp has bolstered his squad by signing centre-back Younes Kaboul from Portsmouth and Icelandic international Eidur Gudjohnsen, on loan from Monaco. The new faces provide more options ahead of Wednesday's return meeting with League One promotion hopefuls Leeds, with a fifth round visit to face Bolton the reward for the victors.
Redknapp has also seen two of his fringe players press their claims for more match action with left back Gareth Bale and David Bentley impressing after being drafted back into the side in recent weeks. Bentley's return in particular has been surprising given the criticism levelled at the player by his manager, who had grown frustrated at what he perceived as a lack of effort in training from the one-time England international.
Bale, meanwhile, has been impressive, standing in as cover for the injured Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Both players are expected to start against Leeds. "I'm so pleased for Gareth - he has stepped in there and been fantastic," said Redknapp.
"His defensive side of his game is stronger and he has learned that. He's looking like the player we all thought he was when he was a kid. I've also been pleased with David. He's played two games last week after being out of the picture. He's here and he's got lots of ability."
Former Chelsea striker Gudjohnsen's return to England has been anything but smooth with West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola criticising his former Stamford Bridge team-mate for pulling out of a move to Upton Park despite undergoing a medical. Redknapp will take a late decision on whether to field the forward against Leeds, but the Iceland international is eager to start his Spurs career after misfiring at both Barcelona and Monaco.
"It's great to be back in England, just to be back in the dressing room, the atmosphere, the sense of humour, it's good," said the 31-year-old. "I'm very grateful and looking forward to this opportunity to play for Tottenham. Waking up on a matchday it seems the whole world is looking at the Premier League and I miss that. I'm really looking forward to it.
"So far it's a very big season for Spurs and I bring more depth to the squad and another option for the manager to use on a matchday. The team should be looking at this fourth place and really going for it and to do that and still be in the FA Cup you are going to need a squad to get to the finish line. I hope to be part of that."
Leeds's form dipped following their third round victory over Manchester United but they returned to winning ways last weekend and manager Simon Grayson believes the 2-0 victory over Colchester marked a return to form. "It will be a different type of game on Wednesday and Tottenham won't play as direct as Colchester did," said Grayson.
"We know that Tottenham are a footballing team who pass the ball around. But we have nothing to lose. I think our confidence and belief has never waned despite not winning in the last few weeks. We are still the underdogs but we will go into it to give it a good show and whatever happens, happens."