Adebayor still working hard - AVB
Andre Villas-Boas launched a staunch defence of Emmanuel Adebayor and backed the misfiring striker to rediscover his best form to help get Tottenham into the Champions League.
Despite his history with Arsenal, Adebayor won the affection of Spurs fans last year, topping the club's scoring charts with a return of 18 goals in 37 matches while on loan from Manchester City. Since the 28-year-old signed a permanent deal at White Hart Lane last summer, he has been unable to find the net as regularly, however.
"He can still be the player we saw last season," said the Portuguese, who has to start Adebayor in Thursday night's Europa League last-32 second leg at Lyon as Jermain Defoe is out with an ankle injury.
"We're trying to unlock the best out of the player. Last year shows as an example for what we're trying to get out of him. Strikers live off goals and we're doing everything we can to try and unlock his full potential."
Adebayor has scored three goals in 24 games so far this term, and his performances have lacked the energy and passion he showed last season, leading some supporters to question the striker's commitment to the cause.
Spurs boss Villas-Boas shirked at that claim and tipped the former Real Madrid hitman to find his scoring boots soon - starting on Thursday night.
Supporters of Arsenal and Manchester City have accused Adebayor in the past of giving up shortly after strong starts at their respective clubs.
With four points separating Spurs and Arsenal in the hunt for Champions League qualification, and a place in the last 16 of the Europa League up for grabs on Thursday evening, Villas-Boas needs his striker back in form quick and he thinks the player will not be affected by the criticism that has come his way in recent weeks.
"I'm not sure if it bothers him," the 35-year-old said. "Players build their own motivations. Perceptions and media opinions can influence the public in general, but I think the player strives on his own motivation in the end.
"I think (he's working as hard). The injuries he had and the African Nations Cup took him out for lots of games and Defoe's form this year had been magnificent."
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