West Brom have received a treble fitness boost ahead of the home Barclays Premier League clash with Tottenham. Head coach Roy Hodgson expects four-goal leading scorer Shane Long (leg) and fellow striker Peter Odemwingie (knee) to be fit. Midfielder Paul Scharner is also winning his race to face Spurs after a three-week lay-off with a knee setback.
Hodgson says he does not believe Odemwingie is guilty of exaggerating the extent of his recent injury, and has warmly welcomed the return to fitness of the striker. Odemwingie has endured an injury-hit campaign, with his latest setback keeping him out for the past month. Hodgson vented his frustration at the situation earlier this week when he claimed that Albion had so far this season got "nothing" from a player who netted 15 goals last term.
Hodgson further claimed that Odemwingie was "difficult to work out", prompting the player to take to his Twitter account to post a picture of the injury and to reassure Baggies fans that he cares for the club. Odemwingie's Twitter account also sees him pictured holding one of the newspaper articles in which Hodgson made his comments, but the Albion manager insists he had never questioned Odemwingie's desire to play for West Brom.
"If I thought he was malingering I would say so," Hodgson said. "Interpretations are interpretations. "It's been frustrating for us, having one of your best players out for a long period of time. "We've been encouraged to think he'll be back a little bit earlier and of course that is also frustrating when it doesn't come off. "This week was fine, he's got back, he's training, and he'll be available for the game on Saturday, which is great news."
Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko could start his first Premier League game of the season after manager Harry Redknapp revealed Jermain Defoe and Rafael van der Vaart could miss out through injury. Van der Vaart came off in the second half of Monday's 2-0 win over Aston Villa with a long-standing hamstring complaint and is a doubt for the match while Defoe is struggling with a groin injury he suffered in training. Michael Dawson (Achilles), Tom Huddlestone (ankle) Niko Kranjcar (thigh) and Danny Rose (ankle) are unavailable.
Tottenham have made huge strides over the last two months, bouncing back from a poor start to go on a nine-match unbeaten run which has rocketed the club up to third in the table. They have dropped just two points since the 5-1 defeat to Manchester City and Redknapp admitted after Monday night's victory that he considers his team genuine title challengers. The 64-year-old, who returned to the dugout on Monday after three weeks off due to a minor heart procedure, admits his team are playing at their best, but has warned them of the dangers of complacency, especially against teams like West Brom, who they are expected to beat.
"The season is just over a quarter of the way through," Redknapp said. "We have a tough game. I have never been to West Brom and had an easy game. They have a fantastic manager and they will be a difficult opponent for us. We have just got to keep our feet on ground now and try to keep on picking up results."
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