Monday 24 July 2017

Harry trying to keep focus on home front

Paul Hirst

Harry Redknapp has urged his team to forget about next week's Champions League showdown with AC Milan and concentrate on making sure they keep in the hunt for a spot in next year's competition by beating Sunderland.

Spurs looked set to lose ground on their rivals last weekend but Niko Kranjcar's injury-time winner against Bolton -- and Chelsea's loss to Liverpool -- moved Redknapp's team level on points with the fourth-placed champions.

Much of the attention on the club has centred on their failed bid for the Olympic Stadium and next Tuesday's glamour tie with Milan at the San Siro. But Redknapp is keen to throw the focus back on today's game in the knowledge that Manchester City's Champions League hopes could be hit in their derby with United.

A victory will also see Tottenham move ahead of Chelsea, who play Fulham on Monday, and Redknapp has called on his team to build on last week's win by recording their third straight victory.

He said: "It is a key game for us. We are bang in the frame with the top four and are looking to do our best to keep up there so the league games are all important to us.

"Focusing on Sunderland shouldn't be difficult because the players know the importance of it.

"We have picked up six good points recently and the results last week have put us right into the group again. There is nothing between the teams pushing for that fourth spot. We have to focus on that now. That's the key thing."

Redknapp has serious doubts over Gareth Bale for Tuesday. Bale has not played for three weeks thanks to a back injury and will miss today's game, along with star forward Rafael van der Vaart, who is struggling with a calf injury.

Luka Modric is also a doubt for Tuesday. Disgruntled striker Roman Pavlyuchenko could start despite being linked with a move to Spartak Moscow this week.

Sunderland v Tottenham,

Live, ESPN, 5.30

Irish Independent

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