Sport Soccer

Saturday 25 February 2017

Spurs rest big names but Rovers still facing a £50m team

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

£10m-rated Aaron Lennon is set to face Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Getty Images
£10m-rated Aaron Lennon is set to face Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Getty Images

THE marquee names will be rested with Sunday's North London derby in mind, but Spurs manager Harry Redknapp is still preparing to unleash £50m worth of talent on Shamrock Rovers tonight.

Redknapp will rest the likes of Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor for the Europa League showdown at White Hart Lane, conceding it would be too much of a risk.

However, he is ready to field a more experienced side than he brought to Greece for a scoreless draw with PAOK Salonika in the opening round of fixtures in the competition.

Therefore, the League of Ireland champions can expect to encounter a starting XI with seven full internationals.

The £10m-rated Aaron Lennon will be thrown in to prove his fitness, while South African playmaker Steven Pienaar -- a cut-price £2.5m acquisition from Everton last January with his contract expiring -- is set to figure.

Redknapp is also using this fixture to accelerate the recovery of highly rated Englishman Danny Rose, who hit the headlines with a stunning goal against Arsenal last season.

In addition to that trio, Rovers boss Michael O'Neill will have to construct a game plan to deal with a host of other expensive purchases, including Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko (£14m), Mexican attacker Giovani dos Santos (£8m), Croatian defender Vedran Corluka (£5.5m) and his centre-half partner, Cameroon international Sebastian Bassong (£8m).

Error-prone Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes (£7m) is in competition with veteran Italian stopper Carlo Cudicini to get the nod between the sticks.

Redknapp admitted to having "two eyes" on the Arsenal encounter, but sent Joe Jordan to watch Shamrock Rovers lose to Sligo Rovers in last week's FAI Cup quarter-final.

His Scottish first-team coach came back full of praise for O'Neill's charges, and Redknapp went through DVDs of the Hoops with his squad at their Chigwell base yesterday.

"I'm not putting my best 11 out, but we want to win," said Redknapp, "We'll put out a team to win the game, a good experienced team, but I don't want to risk too many.

"Joe was impressed with Shamrock Rovers. He said they were a strong team, well made and well coached. And they went to Belgrade and won, didn't they? They'll be up for it, so we'll have to be. I'm sure they'll try and hit us on the counter. They'll set up not to concede and hit us on the break."

Over 2,500 Shamrock Rovers supporters have travelled to the English capital, and there has been a huge response from ex-pats who could well swell the Irish contingent to over the 3,500 mark.

"It will be a big occasion, and I'm sure they (Rovers) will rise to the occasion," said Redknapp.

"But we've got lads coming back -- Aaron Lennon, Danny Rose, and Steven Pienaar. Along with Pavlyuchenko, and Giovani dos Santos, they should be up to the job."

Irish Independent

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