Redknapp defends selection

26 February 2009 11:23
Harry Redknapp again defended resting his first-team players after Tottenham bowed out of the Uefa Cup with a 1-1 draw against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Ahead of the Carling Cup final against Manchester United on Sunday, Wilson Palacios was the only player to remain in the team from the Spurs side that defeated Hull City on Monday.

Despite fielding a second-string side, his players did Redknapp proud as they sought to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit in this last 32 tie.

Giovani gave them hope with a great 55th minute strike, but Fernandinho sealed Shakhtar's progression into the last 16 with an equaliser four minutes from time.

Defending his team selection, Redknapp said: "Who am I supposed to play? I must be in the wrong game if I'm meant to play a first team three days before the cup final."

But he had to risk goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who will feature against United but came through this game unscathed.

"If he got injured I would have been up the swanny," Redknapp admitted.

O'Hara newsThe Spurs boss also revealed he will monitor Jamie O'Hara's hip injury before deciding what part the midfielder will play in the Carling Cup final after the midfielder made an impressive return to action in this game.

When asked if O'Hara could feature against United, Redknapp said: "Hopefully. He's had a groin problem and it's how he reacts to it after this game.

"Jamie was outstanding in his first game back for a month. He has had an injury or he would have been in my team.

"He was top class. You see how much it means to him, he came out and wanted to play.

"He is a terrific passer and gives you balance, he can play wide or inside and he is in my plans. He is a fantastic boy as well. You'd have him in your side any day of the week."

Redknapp was also encouraged by the other youngsters and reserves he fielded against the Ukrainian champions.

Obika impressiveParticularly impressive was 18-year-old Jonathan Obika, who was given his first start and almost scored twice in the first half.

"He was happy, apart from when I called him John Ukata," Redknapp said. "Other than that he was fine."

Redknapp praised Giovani's goal, saying: "It was a good finish, he took it very well."

He also thought Fraizer Campbell was denied a penalty when Razvan Rat brushed him and Mykola Ischenko slid in.

"It was a blatant penalty, he got pushed by one and chopped by the other," he said.

Meanwhile, Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu was upset at Spurs players approaching the referee in the game.

"English football is known for fair play but their players were trying to put pressure on the referee," he said.

Source: SKY_Sports