Lame Redknapp strikes it unlucky with daunting Pompey schedule

Last updated at 17:33 25 October 2007

Harry Redknapp has pulled out of Sunday's Great South Run with a calf injury -

but the Portsmouth manager is more concerned about his strikeforce ahead of

three critical matches in eight days.

A home clash with Redknapp's former club West Ham on Saturday night kicks off a

tough sequence which then sees Blackburn visit in the Carling Cup and a trip to


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Harry Redknapp

And with Kanu and £6million substitute David Nugent on the casualty list,

Redknapp said: "Benjani is my only fit striker in training at the moment and if

anything happens to him we are in trouble."

Redknapp, who suffered an injury himself training for Europe's premier 10-mile

road race, said: "Benjani has done a great job for us since Kanu did his knee

against Blackburn last month.

"But now Nugent is also a doubt as well with a groin problem and Kanu is

definitely not ready to come back yet.

"It's the worst time for this to happen when we have such a hard week but

we'll just have to get through it and luckily the buzz in the squad is great at

the moment, obviously, because we are winning."

Pompey have won their last five games and have soared to fifth in the Barclays

Premier League.

There is a steely determination among the players to maintain that position and

qualify for Europe - something they missed last season by two points - even

though the manager insists he will be happy with another top-10 finish.

Redknapp said: "The squad now is as good as we've had here in my time,

probably the best.

"We had a great bunch of lads when we were first in the Premier, people like

Teddy Sheringham, Yakubu, Steve Stone and Arjen de Zeeuw but this lot might just

have the edge.

"You have to keep improving because this league gets tougher and tougher."

Redknapp spent around £30million this summer strengthening his side and a

powerful African influence has emerged through midfielders Sulley Muntari, the

£7.2million club record signing from Udinese, £3million former Fulham man Papa

Bouba Diop and winger John Utaka, who cost £7million from Rennes.

That trio joined Zimbabwean striker Benjani, a £4.4million buy from Auxerre in

January last year and who, after a barren start, has blossomed and is now the

Premier League's top scorer on seven goals, five of them from his last three


But after sending out an unchanged side in those three games, Redknapp must

make alterations with midfielder Sean Davis serving a one-match ban after

collecting his fifth yellow card of the season at Wigan last Saturday.

It means a return for Portuguese star Pedro Mendes, who lost his place early in

the season through injury.

Redknapp said: "Pedro is a terrific player. He has done nothing wrong but when

he was fit again we were playing well and I couldn't change the team.

"His attitude to being left out has been first class. He has never moaned and

it is the same with Lauren. He's been in good form, too, but we were able to buy

back Glen Johnson from Chelsea and Glen has been superb."

Redknapp realises he will eventually find it impossible to keep all his squad

happy and already long-serving midfielder Richard Hughes has admitted he may

look for a move in January.

Reliable Hughes, 28, who joined Pompey from Bournemouth five years ago,

admitted: "I'm not in the team and so moving away is something I need to

inevitably consider at my age.

"I'm not angry. We have a talented squad and only 11 at a time can play but it

is demoralising when you are not playing and I feel like any player would feel

in my situation."

The Scotland international, who has started just three times this season, might

have featured against Blackburn but starts a three-match ban after being sent

off in the reserves two weeks ago.

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