Tottenham V Norwich at White Hart Lane : Match Preview
08 April 2012 02:01
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Redknapp calm ahead of run-in
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp insists he sees no reason to panic despite Saturday's goalless draw at Sunderland extending his side's poor Barclays Premier League run to one win in seven.
Redknapp's men face Norwich at White Hart Lane on Easter Monday at the start of a favourable six-match run-in which he believes will secure UEFA Champions League qualification.
After Norwich, all five of Tottenham's remaining opponents are entrenched at the wrong end of the Premier League table and Redknapp hopes that could prove crucial.
Redknapp said: "We've got six games and an FA Cup semi-final to look forward to. We haven't got to play any of the top six now, and we've got some decent home games.
"I think you can get too uptight about it. You've seen teams get in good positions before but then the pressure gets to them. We're quite a laid-back bunch and we'll just get on with it."
Redknapp will ring the changes for the Canaries' visit, with his chief concern the fitness of Gareth Bale, who suffered a knock in a challenge by Craig Gardner.
Aaron Lennon is set for his first start in almost a month following a hamstring strain, while Jermain Defoe is also in line to make a comeback.
Redknapp said: "I will make a few changes for sure. I couldn't start Aaron because of his hamstring problem [at Sunderland], so I thought I'd save him for Monday.
"I had to bring him on 10 minutes before I would have liked, but I gave him 30 minutes and he should be okay. Most of them should be okay, but I will freshen it up."
Redknapp was not overly concerned with his side's inability to pick up three points in an attritional battle at the Stadium of Light, with clear-cut chances at a premium.
Bale, Emmanuel Adebayor and Rafael Van der Vaart all had chances as Spurs started well but fell away in the second half as the hosts' rugged approach paid off.
Redknapp will certainly not make the mistake of under-estimating the threat posed by Norwich, and believes Canaries boss Paul Lambert is a contender for manager of the year.
"Paul Lambert has had an incredible season," said Redknapp. "He has done fantastic there. I think what those three [Lambert, Brendan Rodgers and Alan Pardew] have done is amazing."
Norwich midfielder Jonny Howson is determined to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground despite being compared to Andres Iniesta by Lambert.
Many had worried Howson would struggle to make the step up from the npower Championship when he swapped Leeds for Norwich in January, but the 23-year-old has slotted straight in to Lambert's starting XI and opened his scoring account for the Norfolk club in Saturday's 2-2 draw against Everton.
In truth, he could have hardly wished for an easier chance to score his maiden Norwich goal - Tim Howard was stranded when Howson tapped home Wes Hoolahan's cross from six yards - but it was his passing and link-up play with Grant Holt that made Lambert liken the youngster to Barca and Spain star Iniesta.
The midfielder knows his top-flight career is only in its infancy, however, and is determined not to get carried away despite the high praise he received on Saturday evening.
"It's obviously very nice when you hear comments like that, but it's just one game," Howson said.
"It's not a case of getting carried away.
"It's a quick turnaround now with us playing Tottenham on Monday and I will just focus on that game for now.
"This league is very tough. Every game is hard because it's a high standard.
"I am fairly pleased with how it's gone up to now.
"I may have had some decent performances but I have to keep working hard and when you have got quality players around you it does make it easier for yourself."
Norwich passed the 40-point yardstick usually associated with Barclays Premier League safety thanks to the draw against the Toffees.
Nikica Jelavic's double was cancelled out by Howson's goal and Holt's 13th top-flight strike of the campaign.
Holt was a bustling thorn in Everton's side all afternoon, with his huge physical frame proving to be a problem for seasoned campaigner Sylvain Distin, who endured a bruising 90 minutes up against the former Nottingham Forest striker.
Holt is only second to Wayne Rooney in the list of English Premier League top scorers, and has been tipped to break in to the England squad - something Howson thinks his team-mate merits.
"I think he deserves it," Howson added.
"If he is the second-highest English scorer in the league behind Rooney, and if you are choosing players on form, he should be picked."
Lambert is likely to make a few changes to his starting XI, which could mean the likes of Anthony Pilkington, Andrew Crofts and Simeon Jackson are brought in to the team.