Gallas and Van der Vaart set for debuts

HARRY REDKNAPP is ready to hand William Gallas and Rafael van der Vaart their Tottenham debuts in today’s Barclays Premier League game at West Brom as he prepares to rotate his squad for their maiden Champions League campaign.

Spurs boss Redknapp admits he may have blundered in not making changes for the shock 1-0 defeat by Wigan last time out following the club’s historic European victory over Young Boys.

And with their hectic schedule set to continue between now and at least December, Redknapp is ready to make full use of his squad, starting at the Hawthorns.

He said: “Obviously, we play Saturday; then we play Champions League Tuesday; then in the league on Saturday; then we play Arsenal in the Carling Cup; then the league and another Champions League. We’ve got a busy schedule.

“The one thing I did learn – a lesson – last week was maybe I should’ve changed the team that played against Wigan.

“We went to Stoke and had a great result on the Saturday, came back, won the Champions League qualifier with Young Boys.

“And then I really went with the same team, more or less, on the Saturday against Wigan.

“Maybe I should’ve rested one or two and changed a few around, and it might have worked better for us.

“It’s easy, in hindsight, to look back on those things.”

Redknapp has selection dilemmas all over the field this weekend, starting in goal.

With Heurelho Gomes likely to miss out again with a groin injury, Redknapp must decide whether to hand a reprieve to Carlo Cudicini following his costly error against Wigan or give a debut to Stipe Pletikosa.

Gallas appears certain to start at the heart of defence following Michael Dawson’s injury playing for England.

Redknapp may not risk skipper Ledley King’s notoriously-fragile knees ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League Group A opener at Werder Bremen, which would mean a recall for Sebastien Bassong.

With Luka Modric now fit, Redknapp could choose between the Croatian and Van der Vaart in midfield.

Or he might field both and play a lone striker, especially as his forward options have been depleted by the loss of Jermain Defoe for around three months.

Sandro may also be handed his debut at some stage, with Redknapp having left the Brazilian out of his Champions League squad in order to get him up to speed in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, West Brom defender Jonas Olsson believes it could be an advantage to play the difficult teams first in the Barclays Premier League season.

The Baggies were thrashed on the opening day at champions Chelsea and have since lost at Liverpool.

Tottenham are up next today, but Olsson thinks it is better to face hard games early in the season.

He said: “I don’t think you have to just get these games out of the way, because then you’ve already lost them. I think we have to look at it as an advantage to play them in the beginning.

“Traditionally new teams take more points from the top teams at the beginning of the season.

“When they’re out of the way, so to speak, we have a slightly easier programme in the spring than a few other teams.”


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