TOTTENHAM boss Harry Redknapp believes that his second-string team will still be good enough to beat Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League tomorrow night
Having drawn away to PAOK in the first game of the group phase, Spurs will see the home tie with Rovers as a banker of a home win and an opportunity to make some impact in the group.
But there’s also the more important business of the Premier League and a meeting with Arsenal on Sunday, and the Spurs boss has already stated his intention of making sweeping changes to the side for the visit of Rovers. Stars like Emmanuel Adebayor and Gareth Bale will be rested, but internationals such as Aaron Lennon and Roman Pavlyuchenko will play.
“It’s a game we have to win, I’m not putting my first XI out but it’s a game we want to win,” Redknapp said at his pre-match press conference in London this morning.
“We will put out a team to win the game, a good team and an experienced team, we’ll still have seven or eight full internationals playing tomorrow. So it’s a strong team, but I won’t risk some of the players who have to play against Arsenal on Sunday.
“Adebayor, Bale, one or two others, I can’t afford to lose them for the weekend.”
“We have some lads coming back tomorrow who need games. Dos Santos, Pavlyuchenko, Danny Rose, Pienaar, Lennon, I hope they’ll be fit. They have not been in the first team recently but they should be up to the job.”
Redknapp has not been to see Rovers in the flesh but he has sent his assistant, Joe Jordan, to Dublin to spy on the Hoops.
“Joe went to see then. He was impressed with them, they worked hard and are a very solid team, well coached. And I see Jim Magilton is there on the staff now and Jim is a great lad. They won’t be easy,” added Redknapp.
“Joe was impressed with their attitude, they worked hard, he said they looked a good team.
“They will try to hit us on the counter, they will set up not to concede and we have to deal with that but we are not underestimating them.”
Redknapp has an idea of the approach Rovers and Michael O’Neill will take as he’s been in this position before, when he coached his first club, Bournemouth, and managed to get good results against top sides.
“I went to Newcastle with Bournemouth and won, played at Everton too. I know that shocks can happen so it won’t be an easy game and we have to make it as easy as we can. With the right attitude, we can get on top of them early.”
Meanwhile, Spurs man Andros Townsend admits that the London side are in the dark when it comes to tomorrow’s Europa League opponents.
“At the moment we don’t know much but we will go through a video and see their strengths, how we can beat them. Rovers are a good team, any team that gets to this stage has to be a good team,” said Townsend, likely to start at left back tomorrow night.
“It’s a massive night for us. Playing in the Europa League is a big thing for us, especially for the younger lads if we are given the nod.”