Kranjcar in line for Spurs debut

Posted Saturday, September 12, 2009 by PA

Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar is in the squad for the Barclays Premier League clash against Manchester United following his deadline-day move from Portsmouth.

Ledley King will need a final check on his groin injury, while Luka Modric (fibula), Michael Dawson (Achilles), Jonathan Woodgate (groin) and Gareth Bale (knee) miss out at White Hart Lane.

Jermaine Jenas (calf) and Heurelho Gomes (groin) are back in the squad and Sebastien Bassong is available despite a slight knock picked up while on international duty.

Boss Harry Redknapp expects his players to genuinely believe they can reach the Champions League if they can get results against United and Chelsea in their next two games.

Spurs have started the campaign with four consecutive Premier League victories and Redknapp has highlighted the difference in atmosphere and attitude since taking over 11 months ago.

"We've got to aim to try and do that," Redknapp said. "It's time for someone to do it. Aston Villa are looking strong with the signings they have made, Everton will be pushing and Manchester City look strong. But it's possible for someone to do it and why not Spurs?

"A European place would be good, but a Champions League place would be even better."

"I would take four points from the next two games," he said. "We would all start believing if we did that but it's two tough games.

"They're two of the top four sides in Europe. But we've given everyone a game since I've been here, especially at home."

Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville are both in contention for Manchester United.

Ferdinand has yet to play a competitive match for United this season after a thigh injury but is back in training, while Neville proved his fitness in a reserve match last week.

Sir Alex Ferguson may start Antonio Valencia on the bench as the Ecuador winger has had a long journey back from international duty in Bolivia.

John O'Shea is certain to be missing after suffering a calf injury on duty with the Republic of Ireland, while keeper Edwin van der Sar's broken thumb will keep him out for another month.

Ferguson believes Spurs can finally break the stranglehold of the big four after their electric start to the season and knows United will face a tough challenge.

The United manager picked out Redknapp's signing of Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios from Wigan as being key to Spurs' improvement.

"They have a realistic chance of breaking into the top four," said Ferguson.

"They and Man City have had good starts and those two are ahead of the rest of them at the moment. Everton have had a stuttering start but they will come back and be a strong contender and Aston Villa as well.

"Harry has brought in a few of his own type of players like (Peter) Crouch, (Jermain) Defoe and (Niko) Kranjcar from Portsmouth.

"He bought Palacios from Wigan and I thought that was a good signing to bring that steel into midfield. They have really started well and there's a good degree of experience in the squad."




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