Redknapp back as doubts surface over Defoe

Last updated at 15:44 19 October 2004

Tottenham captain Jamie Redknapp has requested a personal hearing after denying the Football Association's charge of violent conduct for a challenge on Everton's Tim Cahill.

And although it is unlikely to help him escape a three-match ban - damning television evidence has already been seen by fans all over the country as well as the FA - it ensures he is free to return to the side this Saturday at home to Bolton.

"A date for the hearing will be fixed in due course," said an FA spokesman which means Redknapp will not be immediately banned under the new fast-track disciplinary procedure.

It is a huge boost for Spurs after Redknapp missed last night's first away defeat of the season at Portsmouth having already collected five yellow cards this season.

Ugly challenge

The last of those was for an ugly over-the-top challenge on Cahill two weeks ago and the FA believe there is a case for upgrading the punishment handed out by referee Graham Poll.

Redknapp's "hard-man" record still amazes fans who recognise the midfielder as one of the leading fair-play exponents and recall his own injury-haunted career.

But if there is a change in him it is reflected by the new pragmatic Tottenham who suffered only their second defeat of the season last night at Portsmouth - the club managed by Jamie's father Harry.

Worse still, uninspiring Spurs collected another serious injury when Cameroon midfielder Thimothee Atouba was carried off with knee ligament damage and faces a long spell on the sidelines after a scan on the injury today.

So Redknapp's return at home to Bolton after his automatic one-match ban for the cautions will be especially welcome for boss Jacques Santini, who is also concerned about Jermain Defoe's indifferent domestic form.

Missed chances

The England marksman missed three good chances and has not scored for Spurs in the Premiership in five games but while his form may be temporary - "he has come to a bad moment" said Santini - Defoe's class is permanent and there is little doubt he will recover.

Former France national coach Santini should be more worried that Spurs' football is now about as flowing as his own shaky command of the English language.

The days are long gone when they were the pass-and-move masters of English football, and it is understandable stability was needed after several seasons of strife, but there is no joy in their game under the Frenchman.

Maybe Harry Redknapp did not mean direct criticism of a Tottenham team that has scored just five goals and conceded four in nine league matches but after seeing his Nigerian striker Aiyegbeni Yakubu's header deservedly give Pompey all three points, he said: "First half they (Spurs) really never had a shot.

"It was good defending by us as well. We nullified them. You've got to have a go, surely. For me to sit here, play one up front and bore the pants off everybody I'd rather not turn up myself.

"We are not going to win the Premiership, that's for sure, but we are going to play football and entertain the people. The fans love what they see from us."

Redknapp put on an extra striker in Ricardo Fuller just before the hour mark, moved Lomana LuaLua out to the right wing and saw him provide the perfect cross for Yakubu to head home his fifth goal of the campaign.

Too little, too late

It was only in the closing minutes when Santini added Fredi Kanoute and debut-making Michael Carrick to his mix but it was too late, despite loud shouts for a penalty when another substitute Johnnie Jackson's shot was blocked en route to goal by defender Andy Griffin.

Kanoute, however, believes it is only a matter of time before Tottenham shed the "boring Spurs" tag. He has called for patience as the players adapt to a radical squad overhaul.

The Mali striker said: "It's always a bit boring when you don't get enough goals but I think it is going to come. We can score - we have proved it in the past. We just have to build a stronger team first and after that we will be scoring a lot more.

"I think the most important thing is the results. You can't build a new team overnight. You have to start by being strong defensively."

Goalkeeper Paul Robinson, who made good saves from Yakubu and Patrik Berger, insisted: "I don't think we set out our stall too defensively. It's just the way to play away from home.

"We've had success doing that and just because we've lost one game I don't think there should be a big inquest. We have got Michael Carrick and Sean Davis to come in so there's a lot of quality in the squad and we'll be picking up points again before long."

But Michael Brown, who won the vote over fit-again Carrick to deputise for Redknapp and make his first start under Santini, admits being under instruction to curb his attacking instincts to comply with the coach's tactics.

He told the London Evening Standard: "It's about me doing what's right for the team and, if that's what I have to do, then so be it. Obviously I would love to get forward and get some goals, but the way we play it is difficult to do that.

"We've shut the back door and it seems to have worked but I think the real test is going to come now winter is setting in. We will have to show our true grit and dig in to get results."