Hearts to face blunt Spurs

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TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR are facing a major selection dilemma for Thursday’s Europa League tie against Hearts with up to seven first-team players expected to miss the match through injury.

Centre-backs William Gallas and Ledley King will not travel to Edinburgh, whilst in midfield Jermaine Jenas, Sandro, Steven Pienaar and Tom Huddlestone are also struggling to be fit. Rafael van der Vaart is suffering with an ankle knock, although he is hopeful of featuring at Tynecastle.

Hearts will be encouraged by their opponents’ problems for the first leg of what promises to be a tumultuous play-off between two British clubs.

Gallas, suffering from a calf problem, will also miss the second leg at White Hart Lane, although King hopes to be fit by then after undergoing knee surgery at the end of last season. Their absence leaves Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, with Younes Kaboul and Michael Dawson fit to start in central defence against Hearts, with the unsettled Sebastien Bassong in reserve.

Luka Modric, Nico Kranjcar, Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale are available to play and could form the hub of the Tottenham midfield, with youngsters Jake Livermore and Andros Townsend also in contention alongside Wilson Palacios.

Regardless of the mounting injury concerns, Bale believes Tottenham have what it takes to win in Edinburgh but stressed no-one will be complacent against Hearts.

“I don’t think any game was going to be easy. In a way, it’s good that we did get Hearts,” said the Welshman. “It’s not too far to travel for us and I think it will be a good game. We’re not going to take it lightly, we know they are a good team.

“They’re going to want to qualify just as much as us. It’s a case of us needing to start right, do what we’ve been doing in pre-season. Basically start on the good foot and give a good account of ourselves to start the season. We’ll be raring to go, hopefully to get the win.”

Doddie belief – P42-43