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Redknapp sure all Euro chasers can finish third

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp believes the teams chasing a place in the Champions League can also finish in the top three of the Premier League this season.

Spurs can get within four points of third-placed Arsenal if they beat Aston Villa at White Hart Lane tonight, while Martin O'Neill's side are only two points behind Redknapp's men.

"It is going to be tight," Redknapp said. "If we would have beaten Birmingham last week, when leading 1-0, and we should have had the game over, then we are suddenly not so far away from Arsenal.

"Someone could get third spot. Manchester City could. We could. Liverpool could. Anyone is capable with a run. Arsenal are not 100pc sure to be there if they get beaten by Chelsea and other teams pick up good results.

"Arsenal are favourites but it is not impossible for anyone to catch them, there could be a five or six-point turnaround.

"We thought that Chelsea were running away with it, but now look at it. Wide open again."

Redknapp has plenty of decisions to make about his starting XI. At the back, Ledley King will have a late test on his knee and Younes Kaboul is available after completing his move from Portsmouth.

In midfield, Luka Modric could return after being rested against Leeds in the FA Cup on Wednesday but David Bentley has played the last three matches and impressed at Elland Road.

Redknapp admits other managers would have given up on Bentley this season following the winger's troubles on and off the pitch.



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Bentley's campaign has included a drink-driving charge, having his attitude in training questioned and failing to get ahead of Aaron Lennon in the Spurs pecking order. But he has taken advantage of injury to his fellow right-winger to show Redknapp what he can do.

"Other people possibly wouldn't have had the patience that I've shown with David," Redknapp said. "If I was really hard on him I would have isolated him, but I didn't do that.

"When he wasn't playing, his head went down and he probably didn't see any light at the end of the tunnel. I spoke to him about it and he accepted his attitude wasn't right but he was finding it hard to pull himself out of it at the time because he wasn't playing.

"I have pulled him up several times and it has not been easy. But I also understand how he must have been feeling. But there was nothing I could do about it because Aaron was playing so well."

Meanwhile, Villa manager O'Neill is looking to his stingy defence to snuff out the goalscoring threat of Tottenham's leading marksman, Jermain Defoe.

Villa have the best defensive record in the league -- conceding just 18 goals in 23 games -- and O'Neill said: "Statistically it is very good that we have such a good defensive record at the present time.

"I'm aware that could be eroded in two or three games, and the defence will be put to a severe test in the next two games against Tottenham and Manchester United, never mind the FA Cup match.

"I've been very pleased and I think James Collins, Richard Dunne and Stephen Warnock were incredibly important for us because Curtis Davies was going to be out injured for four or five months.

"We knew that was going to take that time, and we only had Ciaran Clarke and Carlos Cuellar playing against Fulham in one of the earlier games.

"Obviously, we had to do something about it and those three players coming into the football club have given everybody a lift.

"I don't think they realise the importance of their contributions," added the former Celtic and Leicester City manager.

TOTTENHAM v ASTON VILLA (LIVE ESPN 5.15)


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