Injuries taking their toll – Redknapp

Spurs came crashing back down to earth on Saturday when they lost

4-2 at Bolton just four days after recording one of their best ever

wins against European champions Inter Milan. The week was a

microcosm of what has been a season of extreme highs and lows for

Redknapp’s side, who have had to juggle the demands of the

Champions League and Premier League for the first time. Injuries to

key players such Ledley King, Michael Dawson and Jermain Defoe have

not helped their cause, while knocks for Rafael van der Vaart and

fellow midfielder Tom Huddlestone have also left them depleted in

crucial areas. Manager Redknapp said: “When you’re playing

Saturday-midweek-Saturday-midweek in the Champions League and

Europe, it takes a toll. “It takes a toll in terms of picking up

the injuries. “When you lose three or four players, it very

difficult; it’s hard to be as good as you are when everybody’s

fit.” Using the Chelsea team beaten 2-0 at Liverpool yesterday to

illustrate his point, Redknapp added: “You look at Chelsea

yesterday without (Frank) Lampard, (Michael) Essien, (Didier)

Drogba: suddenly they’re a different team. “When Liverpool don’t

have (Steven) Gerrard or (Fernando) Torres or key players there,

they’re a different team. “Every team is the same, and we’ve had

our share recently. “One or two vital players, when they come back,

you get stronger again; that’s how it works.” Unfortunately for

Redknapp, he may be once again without new talisman van der Vaart

for tomorrow’s visit of Sunderland. “He wants to see how he feels

this morning but I still think he’d be doubtful,” said Redknapp of

the Holland star, who is carrying a hamstring strain. “You can’t

take a chance and he tears it and he’s out for six weeks or

something.” Redknapp admitted Chelsea’s defeat yesterday was bad

news for his side’s hopes of finishing fourth for a second straight

season. The result moved Liverpool level on 15 points with Spurs,

who are now five adrift of the top four having taken just one point

from their last three league games. Redknapp said: “If we’re all

realistic, a top-four finish is what you’re looking for and, if

you’re doing that, you want Liverpool out the way. “I’d be a liar

if I sat here and said I thought it was a great result for the rest

of us.” He added: “It’s going to be even harder this year to get a

top-four place. “Man City are definitely stronger than last year;

they’ve improved, bought some big players. “People wrote Liverpool

off a few weeks ago; I thought that was nonsense because they were

always going to come good. “To keep them out of the top four is

going to be difficult again this year.” Although they have not kept

a clean sheet in the league since the opening day, it is a lack of

goals at the other end that has let Tottenham down this season when

compared to the same juncture last term. Redknapp, who is eager for

arch-finisher Defoe to return as quickly as possible, said: “You

can look at your team at the start of the year, I always think, and

you can more or less judge how many goals you’ll score. “You can go

through them and say, ‘He’ll get us 18, he’ll get us 10, he’ll get

six, he might get two, he might score a goal if it’s Pancake Day.

“This time last year, we obviously had a lot more goals because

Robbie Keane was on fire and scoring plenty of goals, and so was

Jermain. “It’s different; Rafa van der Vaart is scoring goals since

he’s arrived. “Crouchy (Peter Crouch), who you’d expect to score a

few, hasn’t in the league. “It’ll turn and Jermain is on his way

back, so not too far away now.”