Thursday 23 March 2017

Mum's the word for Spurs star Palacios

Mike McGrath

tottenham manager Harry Redknapp includes Wilson Palacios as one of the key signings who has helped take the club from bottom of the table to the Champions League in his two years in charge -- although it may have taken a chance encounter with the midfielder's mother for Palacios to get back in the team to face Everton today.

Redknapp celebrates his second anniversary in charge of Tottenham when Everton come to White Hart Lane, with Palacios in the frame for a place in the starting XI as Tom Huddlestone and Jermaine Jenas were exhausted after the 4-3 defeat to Internazionale at San Siro on Wednesday.

That Spurs were even playing there was partly due to Palacios' arrival for £12m from Wigan in Redknapp's first transfer window having left Portsmouth to, as he describes it, help chairman Daniel Levy "get to sleep at night."

Palacios has suffered a dip in form since representing Honduras at the World Cup, with the 26-year-old starting just three league games so far this season.

It has not pleased his mother Orfilia, who has been visiting from South America. Redknapp said: "I've got to play him, really, because I met him out shopping with his mum the other day, and I was with my wife.

And she's telling me that she'd come to England to watch him play and I hadn't been playing him. And she was quite a big girl. So I've got to play him. I wasn't going to mess with her, believe you me."

Palacios also suffered from the arrival of Rafael van der Vaart, with the Netherlands international taking another central position.

Van der Vaart is set to return against Everton after being suspended on Wednesday, with his signing and early form sparking hopes of Spurs maintaining their place among the league pacesetters.

sulking

Redknapp, however, does not forget the part Palacios played when his side were battling against relegation following a start to the 2008-09 season that saw them get two points from eight games.

"He came here and we wouldn't be where we are without Wilson, really," Redknapp said. "When he came, I thought he turned us round, did great. So, he's ready to play again now. There's been no sulking when he's not in the team -- he's a worker. He's come from a poor background. He hasn't forgotten where his roots were."

Everton arrive at White Hart Lane looking for their third successive league win after victories over Birmingham and Liverpool turned round their poor start to the season.

They continue to be dogged by injury problems, and this week Leon Osman was added to the list after it was confirmed the ankle injury he picked up against Liverpool will keep him out for between four and six weeks.

However, this lunchtime might be a good time to play Spurs, who might be drained by the effort of playing with just 10 men for over 80 minutes against the European champions on Wednesday.

Yet manager David Moyes is wary of the talent at Redknapp's disposal, in particular Gareth Bale who earned headlines with his hat-trick in Milan.

"Bale's an outstanding player, an outstanding talent. He looks as if he carries himself well professionally, which is always good to see. Let's just hope he's not fit for tomorrow," Moyes said.

"The difficulties for Tottenham will be for Harry to think about but the travelling and playing three games in a week can take its toll on your squad."

On star man, Bale, Redknapp admitted: "He's tired, the kid. He had a couple of tough games for Wales and then, obviously, Saturday (against) Fulham, and Wednesday night in the San Siro.

"He's nearly empty, but, hopefully, there's still a little bit of petrol in there."

Redknapp immediately slapped a not-for-sale sign on Bale after Wednesday night and he revealed he spoke to chairman Daniel Levy on the subject following the game.

"Gareth has not got a value; he's not for sale. That's the key. I spoke with the chairman the other night," he said.

"I will look to freshen it up a little bit tomorrow, with one or two changes," Redknapp said. "We have got some players who are desperate to play: the boy Sandro, Palacios; they're top players and they're available.

"Rafa's back again tomorrow."

Redknapp was philosophical about the 12.45 kick-off, saying: "It could've been worse; it could've been away. We've got no excuses. We're playing a good team tomorrow.

"They had a little dodgy start; they've had a dodgy start last couple of years, but, every year, David pulls them up. They end up either getting into Europe or pushing for European places. He's built a very difficult team to beat. They'll be up there again at the end of the year."

Moyes is hoping his side have finally put behind them their poor start to the season and can continue their winning run. Moyes said: "We think we're a side who are good enough to be at the top end of the league. We didn't show that in the opening games of the season. We were all a bit surprised by it after the way we'd finished the season before.

runs

"You need to get on runs in this league. We probably played better in other games than against Liverpool last week and didn't win. Let's just hope we're on that run that wins us games now."

Everton will have their work cut out to make it three wins in a row tomorrow, though, with Tottenham again keeping pace with the biggest names in the league. Moyes is a big fan of the squad Redknapp has assembled at White Hart Lane and he would not be surprised to see Spurs in the top four for a second consecutive season.

"I hear him (Redknapp) saying about how he thinks he's only one or two players away from being right at the top end and I agree with him," said Moyes.

"Tottenham have got some really good players, a good squad, a well-balanced squad, and I think they'll be right there throughout the season."

He said: "Van der Vaart's been a really good signing. I think he's a player that a lot of people knew about but never thought he would be available. But Tottenham are in a situation where they've got a bit of money behind them that they're able to spend and they've been able to bring him to Tottenham.

Mikel Arteta is struggling to overcome a slight problem and could miss out tomorrow along with the other definite absentees, Marouane Fellaini (hamstring), Jack Rodwell (ankle) and Ross Barkley (broken leg).

Steven Pienaar (groin) and Louis Saha (calf) have also been sidelined, but Moyes will hope they can recover sooner rather than later.

Tottenham v Everton,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 12.45

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