Redknapp cools Rafa concerns

Van der Vaart has enjoyed a splendid first season in the Premier

League but has regularly been substituted in the second half of

games and on a couple of occasions recently has risked the wrath of

Redknapp by walking straight down the tunnel rather than staying to

watch his team-mates. Redknapp has stressed that he will continue

to take off the 28-year-old when he tires in matches, although he

does not think it will be so much of a problem next term. Van der

Vaart’s preparations for this season were disrupted and he has had

to contend with a couple of injuries, but Redknapp is happy with

his work-rate on the pitch. The Spurs manager certainly never

considered replacing Van der Vaart during Wednesday’s 3-3 draw with

Arsenal, when he scored twice, and is now banking on the former

Real Madrid playmaker carrying on his fine form. “Rafa was

outstanding the other night and hopefully he can now have a good

end to the season,” said Redknapp. “If he goes on a run of scoring

goals from now to the final game, it could make a difference for

us. “I don’t see his fitness as a long-term issue. He has had

injuries but if you look at his stats when he plays, he covers an

awful lot of ground. “Sometimes early on I was subbing him because

he was getting tired and I felt he might do his hamstring or

something. “After all, he missed a pre-season after going away with

Holland to the World Cup and he was probably sitting around a hotel

and not doing a lot. “If you miss pre-season, the fitness you need

to put in the bank that keeps you going for the season is not

there. “But he’s a top player – right up there with Gareth Bale and

Luka Modric for us – and we need him playing at his best because

when he is, he is a match-winner. “He makes and scores goals and if

he has a strong end to the season it’s going to be a big bonus.”