Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp admits he feels sorry for Jermain Defoe, but is confident that the in-form striker will not become upset at his recent omission from the starting line-up.
The England hitman has found the net five times in seven starts this season, but he has not started the last two league games thanks to the form of Emmanuel Adebayor and Rafael van der Vaart, who scored both goals in last week's 2-1 win at Blackburn to take his tally to six for the season.
The 29-year-old is likely to be on the bench for the third league game in a row on Sunday when Spurs host QPR, and Redknapp said: "I feel for Jermain at the moment."
He added: "It's almost unfair that he's not in the team but there is nothing we can do about that. He has been in magnificent form and he can't get in my team at the moment. He was almost unplayable in training this week, but Rafa has scored five in the last four.
"Jermain is a sensible lad. I am sure he will look at it and he will see how well Rafa is playing and Adebayor too. If you look at Rafa's goalscoring record it's incredible. He is just a great finisher. He is cool in front of goal and when the chances come he makes it look so easy. His two goals last week were world class."
Although Defoe has made no suggestion that he is unhappy at Spurs, he did voice his frustration at being left out of the starting XI last season, when Redknapp preferred partnering Van der Vaart with Peter Crouch.
One man who has certainly been left upset about his lack of first-team action is Roman Pavlyuchenko. The Russian fired home an early contender for goal of the season against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League last Thursday, but he was an unused substitute in the club's 2-1 win at Blackburn four days later and is yet to start a league game this term.
The 29-year-old admitted last week that he would seek a move away from White Hart Lane in January if he does not play more often, but Redknapp insists his fourth-choice forward will not leave on the cheap if he decides to let the player go.
"Pav has to keep working hard and see what happens. It's up to the club," Redknapp said.
"I suppose it's possible (that he will leave). If he feels it will hamper his chances of playing in Euro 2012, but it would take a good offer for us to sell him. We don't want to sell him so if someone wants to take him it would have to be a good offer because he is a good player."