Redknapp: Carry on Niko

The Croatia midfielder, who might have left White Hart Lane last

month, produced a stunning finish to see off Sunderland on Wearside

on Saturday a week after accounting for Bolton in similar fashion

to make light of Gareth Bale’s continued absence. Redknapp revealed

after the game at the Stadium of Light that the Welshman is

unlikely to make Tuesday night’s trip to the San Siro to face AC

Milan despite being close to a return from his long-standing back

problem. But, with Kranjcar have 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 practises, 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 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. The visitors had started without the injured

Rafael van der Vaart – his manager later revealed that the Dutchman

will be fit to travel to Italy after shaking off a calf injury –

and with Wilson Palacios, Aaron Lennon and Peter Crouch on the

bench. They struggled to find their usual fluency in the opening

half-hour of the game, and it was a set-piece which eventually gave

them their foothold. Michael Dawson rose to meet Steven Pienaar’s

44th-minute corner and, with Titus Bramble sleeping, the central

defender headed through keeper Craig Gordon’s legs to level. The

equaliser changed the emphasis of Redknapp’s half-time team-talk

and a much-improved Spurs made the pressure tell when Kranjcar

latched on to John Mensah’s headed clearance to thump a right-foot

volley into the bottom corner. 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.”