Bale’s struggling, admits Redknapp

The 21-year-old winger has had a sparkling first half to the season

– highlighted by a brilliant hat-trick in Tottenham’s 4-3

group-stage defeat to Inter Milan on their first trip to the San

Siro – but is struggling for Tuesday’s clash with a back injury.

Asked whether Bale would feature against the Serie A leaders,

Redknapp told Sky Sports News: “No. He’s struggling, to be

truthful. “I’d like to be able to scare Milan a bit and say he’s

going to be available but he’s struggling to get over this back

injury. “The specialists don’t see too much of a problem that

should keep him out too long. “(But) we’re going to make sure he’s

right. He’s a young lad and got a great future in front of him. “We

couldn’t take a chance. He doesn’t feel he’s ready to play. We’ll

leave it to him. “He came up yesterday when we were at Sunderland

and worked with the fitness coaches. When they started to push him

a bit he couldn’t go on and didn’t feel right so they had to go

back a few steps and start again.” Croatia playmaker Luka Modric

also looks set to miss out, having undergone an operation to remove

his appendix only 12 days ago. “He trained this morning and felt a

bit better again but to push him back into it would be difficult,”

Redknapp said. “He’s not quite up to speed yet.” There was better

news regarding Holland midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, who has

been struggling with a calf strain, but still a big question mark

over England striker Peter Crouch. “[Van der Vaart] should be fit,”

said Redknapp. “Crouch is touch and go. His back’s a bit of a

problem – we’re not sure he’s going to be fit.” Redknapp also

confirmed that Sandro and Wilson Palacios would form his central

midfield partnership, with Tom Huddlestone injured and Jermaine

Jenas suspended. “[Sandro] will be playing, for sure, because I’ve

only got two central midfielders,” he said. “We’ve got to wrap them

in cotton wool and they’ll be playing.” Another midfielder

definitely available and in contention will be Modric’s

international team-mate Niko Kranjcar. The 26-year-old, who might

have left White Hart Lane last month, produced a stunning finish to

see off Sunderland on Wearside a week after accounting for Bolton

in similar fashion to make light of Bale’s continued absence. With

Kranjcar having responded superbly to his chance, Redknapp admitted

he might have included him even if Bale was fit. He said: “I could

always stick Niko somewhere else if Gareth was fit because Niko

deserves his place in the team. “He’s a top player. He spends time

after training every day. “Every day, he is on the training ground

after he finishes doing a half-hour’s practice. “His dad was a top

player – his dad is now the manager of Montenegro. He has been

brought up with the game. “He practises, so it is not coincidence

that he can strike a ball. His technique is great.” Kranjcar’s

decisive intervention at the Stadium of Light came 12 minutes after

the break as his side recovered from an ordinary opening 45 minutes

to assume control. Asamoah Gyan had given the home side an

11th-minute lead with his 10th goal of the season, although

Redknapp was less than impressed with the fact that central

defender William Gallas was off the pitch at the time changing his

boots. Redknapp was delighted at the resilience his side showed to

fight back from a losing position once again. He said: “We have

done it more than anybody in the league, I would think, this year.

We have come from behind so many times. “We go behind and we keep

going, and that’s what you have to do. “But I would rather not go

behind. I would rather get in front to start with. “I just felt if

we could get a goal back, we had a good chance. We came in at 1-1

and I fancied us to win at half-time. I thought we could go on and

win it.” Redknapp headed south ready to start his preparations for

a big night in Italy and already looking forward to the game. He

said: “We have been in great form. They [AC Milan] had a big win –

they beat Parma 4-0. “Tim Sherwood went over with Les Ferdinand for

me and I will speak to them on the way home and tomorrow and get a

report on what they saw. “I went last week and watched them and

they are a dangerous side. They have got some real quality players.

“The front three have all got goals in them – Robinho, [Alexandre]

Pato, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic – they are top-class players. “It will

be a big test, but I think we have got a big chance. I think we

have got a real chance and I am looking forward to it.”