Same again for Spurs?

Posted Saturday, August 29, 2009 by PA

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is likely to select the same side which won at West Ham last weekend for Saturday's match against Birmingham at White Hart Lane.

Defenders Jonathan Woodgate (hernia) and Michael Dawson (Achilles) are still long term absentees, although Dawson has resumed light training.

Goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes is likely to be out for another three weeks at least with a groin injury suffered in the 5-1 victory against Hull.

Redknapp has revealed how he transformed Tottenham into the formidable force which is setting a fiery pace at the top of the Premier League.

The Tottenham manager admits Spurs were a soft touch when he took over with Premier League clubs looking forward to them visiting their grounds.

But he believes signings such as Wilson Palacios and Sebastien Bassong have added steel to the style which has brought them 14 goals in just four games so far this season.

Redknapp, whose side are confident of extending their 100% record this season when they take on Birmingham at White Hart Lane tomorrow, said: "I always felt you could bash Tottenham up. When they used to come to Portsmouth we used to feel 'Yeah, we can beat these today. We can get after these.' I don't feel that now.

"(Wilson) Palacios has been a major part in changing that. He has made a big difference to this club. He's what Tottenham haven't had.

"He closes down. He's aggressive. He's strong. The others see Palacios closing people down and it rubs off on them. He walks round like he's pleased to be here. He appreciates everything. He's not a big-time Charlie."

Birmingham left-back Gregory Vignal could return for the clash.

Vignal has missed the last two games after suffering a hip problem against Portsmouth but is close to fitness.

Blues boss Alex McLeish has to decide whether to include record signing Christian Benitez in the league starting line-up for the first time after he impressed in the Carling Cup win at Southampton - but fellow striker Cameron Jerome is still sidelined with an ankle injury.

McLeish believes Tottenham will be genuine contenders to break into the top four this season if they avoid injuries to key performers.

He began his reign in charge of Blues with a 3-2 win over Tottenham at White Hart Lane 20 months ago.

McLeish said: "It is a very different team to then. There are still a few players who played in that game but we know they are at the top of their form now.

"Their confidence is sky high. They have multi-million pound players who can't even get a game. We are in no doubts about the mammoth task we face but that is the great challenge of football.

"We will be tested. They have great speed and technical ability, an embarrassment of riches we can only dream about. They have been the talk of the season so far.

"Are they top four contenders? There is no reason why they can't be if they keep everyone fit.

"You only need to lose two or three players and it can go pear-shaped for you. If two or three players missing can damage them, well spare a thought for us!"

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