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Tottenham V Sunderland at White Hart Lane : Match Preview

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Updated 18 May 2013 14:01:23

Tottenham V Sunderland at White Hart Lane : Match Preview

Tottenham V Sunderland - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Dawson desperate to grab Euro berth

Michael Dawson is desperately hoping Tottenham will not suffer yet more Champions League heartbreak.

The only way that Tottenham will qualify for the Champions League in this weekend's final round of matches is if they beat Sunderland at White Hart Lane and the Gunners drop points at lowly Newcastle.

Spurs narrowly missed out on the Champions League two years ago and last year Dawson led the team to fourth place, only to be denied a place at Europe's top table thanks to Chelsea's victory in Munich.

Dawson was also part of the Tottenham team that just failed to qualify for the competition seven years ago thanks to a dodgy lasagne.

If Spurs beat Sunderland they will end with 72 points - a club record in the Premier League era. That will be of little consolation to their captain, though, after the final day turmoil he has suffered at the club since he joined in 2005.

"If we win and get 72 it will be a great season, but it will only be a fantastic season if we get that Champions League spot," Dawson said. "That's what we set out to achieve at the start of the season.

"If we can get that number of points then great but we want to be in the Champions League with the way we missed out on it last year."

Defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto has recovered from a knee injury and is available but long-term absentees Sandro (knee), Younes Kaboul (thigh) and William Gallas (calf) are unavailable.

Sunderland defender John O'Shea will look back on an eventful season grateful to have emerged from it both in good health and with honour intact.

The 32-year-old will run out at Tottenham knowing the Black Cats will be playing their football in the Barclays Premier League once again next season no matter what the result at White Hart Lane, something which was in doubt right up until Wigan's defeat at Arsenal on Tuesday evening.

He will do so have played a key role for club and country during a campaign which has seen him captain Sunderland and the Republic of Ireland and help steer them through decidedly choppy waters.

Martin O'Neill was shown the exit door at the Stadium of Light in March and Giovanni Trapattoni's reign came under serious threat after a 6-1 home World Cup qualifier defeat by Germany in October but, through all the turmoil, O'Shea stood tall and continued to do what he has done with such distinction throughout his career.

He said: "Thankfully the fitness has been very good this year, that's been the main thing.

"You are maintaining everything off the pitch in terms of the work you do in the gym and the core work - especially when you are getting into your 30s rather than your 20s, it's definitely needed more.

"But also you know you are preparing yourself right and you can cope with it.

"Thankfully, I have never had the major injuries that can hold you back towards the latter end of your career. I feel very fresh."

In the meantime, the Black Cats will attempt to finish their season on a high after limping over the finishing line without kicking a ball.

Boss Paolo Di Canio had hoped they would seal their top-flight status by beating Stoke or Southampton in consecutive home games but both ended 1-1 meaning victory for Wigan at the Emirates Stadium would have set up a tense final day.

But while the pressure of the relegation fight may have gone, there will be no let-up from the manager.

The 44-year-old Italian said: "We still have one game to go and we have to make sure that we are going to perform well because I don't want to finish fourth from the bottom if it's possible.

"With even a draw, potentially we can be sixth from the bottom. But we have to make sure that we are going to put everything into this game and not finish fourth from the bottom."

Di Canio will need to plug the hole left by loan signing Danny Rose.

The England Under-21 international left-back is ineligible to play against his parent club, to which he returned after last weekend's 1-1 draw with Southampton, and midfielder Jack Colback seems the most likely man to fill in.

Striker Stephane Sessegnon completes his three-match ban while midfielder Craig Gardner sits out the second game of his enforced lay-off, although forward Connor Wickham is available after returning as a substitute against the Saints following a month on the sidelines with a calf injury.


PA

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