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East End 'Arry sings praises of top pro Dawson

there's always been something endearingly Albert Square about Harry Redknapp and the Tottenham Hotspur manager did little to disprove that theory with a post-match summation that could easily have been delivered in the Queen Vic over a quiet pint.

How many of his contemporaries would have used a term as 'EastEnders' as 'toe-rag' to discuss the spirit in the camp that is underpinning another memorable campaign at White Hart Lane?

Redknapp was discussing the qualities of his skipper Michael Dawson -- a redoubtable Yorkshireman who is more Woolpack than Walford -- whose first goal of the season cancelled out Asamoah Gyan's deft early finish at the Stadium of Light.

"It's not just about having wonderful players," Redknapp insisted after a victory to extend his side's run to a single league defeat in 15 games, taking them above Chelsea into fourth place.


"There are a lot of good players who are toe-rags who you wouldn't have near you for all the money in the world.

"We've got plenty of great lads in our ranks like Michael, who who gives you everything.

"He works hard, he trains hard and, when he was left out, he didn't come in and say 'I can't travel, I've got a bad back' or something like that. He's no toe-rag or prima donna."

Few soap opera scriptwriters could have conjured up the kind of plot twist provided by Redknapp, who quickly changed his tune after ruling Gareth Bale out of tomorrow's meeting with AC Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League in the immediate aftermath of a result which ensured Tottenham became the sixth team in Premier League history to break the 1,000-point mark.

"I'll be honest with you, he's not out for sure," the manager suggested not long after writing off the 21-year-old's chances of recovering from the back injury that's sidelined the Wales midfielder for three weeks.

"The specialist thinks he should be okay. If he feels right tomorrow, I'd like to think he'd be out giving it a go."

Rafael van der Vaart is expected to recover in time from a calf problem.

Sunderland's mid-season slump threatens to arrive somewhat later this year after a fourth defeat in six games at home denied them an opportunity to climb above Liverpool into sixth.

The Black Cats took an 11th-minute lead when, with William Gallas off the pitch changing his boots, record signing Gyan fired home his 10th goal of the season.

Spurs hit back on 44 minutes as Sunderland's defenders forgot how to defend at set-pieces.

Manager Steve Bruce will be wondering what Titus Bramble in particular was doing as Dawson rose unchallenged to head Niko Kranjcar's corner through Craig Gordon's grasp.

Kranjcar hit the winner with a crisp volley 12 minutes after the break, making it 20 points the visitors have gathered this season from losing positions. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent