Redknapp in striker crisis

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp fears he may be forced into fielding a team without strikers for the Barclays Premiership game against Arsenal on Saturday.

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp fears he may be forced into fielding a team without strikers for the Barclays Premiership game against Arsenal on Saturday.

All four of Redknapp’s front-men are injured with three already ruled out of the Christmas matches.

And the latest victim Kanu, the Premiership’s joint top-scorer with nine goals, faces missing out on an emotional return against his old club with the knee injury he sustained in last week’s 2-0 win over Everton.

With former England ace Andrew Cole (Achilles), DR Congo star Lomana LuaLua (thigh) both under long-term treatment, and Zimbabwe’s Benjani Mwaruwari out with a pulled hamstring, Redknapp desperately hopes Kanu can overcome his injury.

He said: “We have no-one else who can play up front. We can only hope Kanu will be fit, but I’m serious about this, his knee is bad. If I play him and he breaks down he could be out for six weeks.

“We would be right in trouble if that happened. We are playing Sheffield United at home two days before Christmas and West Ham away on Boxing Day - matches where we need to get results.”

When Kanu and Benjani hobbled off last Saturday Redknapp’s only option was to throw on on-loan Cameroon winger Roudolphe Douala as a central striker but he is unlikely to start with him and if Kanu is out will field what he has called “the 5-5-0” formation..

He said: “I’ve looked through our squad and can’t see anybody who could play up front on his own or through the middle.

"We have just got to get on with it this weekend. Let’s face it whenever you get anything out of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal it is a real bonus.

“Arsenal are a fantastic side, playing at a fantastic new stadium and with fantastic fans. I used to be one myself as a kid. I hardly missed a game at Highbury and went to loads away from home as well with my dad.

“But we are not just going to their new place (Emirates Stadium) to lie down. I know the rest of the players will give it everything as usual. They don’t want to waste the great start we have made to the season.”

Portsmouth, perennial relegation fighters, have confounded the critics by filling a Champions League position this season although Arsenal climbed above them into third place by beating Wigan.

Kanu, released by the Gunners two years ago, has vindicated Redknapp’s decision to sign him on a free transfer after an unproductive spell with West Brom.

He has not given up yet on making the trip to the Emirates but admits: “My knee really hurts. And you don’t want to go into a game with opponents like Arsenal feeling well under 100% fit.

“We will see what happens but everybody will know what my chances are well before the kick-off. I have been having treatment all week.”

Kanu is not the only former Gunner in contention to face h old club. Centre back Sol Campbell, who has reprised some of his vintage performances at the back for Pompey after having his contract paid up by Arsenal in the summer, is a certain starter.

Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams will be in the technical area as Redknapp’s assistant manager.

Redknapp said: “I think all three would be given a great reception. Sol had to cope with some abuse when he went back to his first club Tottenham – but that was only because he had signed for Arsenal after leaving them.

“The Arsenal fans, I’m sure still appreciate what he, Tony and Kanu did for the club.”

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