Dawson dreaming of Messi meeting

Michael Dawson was already dreaming of marking Lionel Messi ahead of his and Tottenham's Champions League debut against Young Boys tonight.

New England defender Dawson was expected to lead out Spurs at the Stade de Suisse for the club's first match at this level for almost half a century.

Although the 26-year-old insisted he was taking nothing for granted against the Swiss minnows, he could not help but turn his attention to the lucrative group stage and possible clashes against the likes of Barcelona.

Dawson, whose Champions League experience has until now been restricted exclusively to the armchair, said: "There are so many games you watch and to play against the best players in the world - Messi and players like that - would be fantastic and a great test."

Tonight's match continues a career-changing six days for Dawson, who made his England debut against Hungary last Wednesday.

"It's been a special week for me," he said.

"To get my England debut was a dream. It's been a long wait but I loved it.

"It's been a fantastic week and hopefully a week tomorrow night we'll have achieved getting into the group stages."

Dawson spoke of his pride at the prospect of skippering Spurs in Bern, saying: "Whenever I lead the team out or wherever I walk out in a Tottenham shirt, it's a fantastic feeling."

The defender has reached the Champions League far more quickly than manager Harry Redknapp, Dawson not even born when his boss first embarked on a career in management in the early 1980s.

But Redknapp was not in the mood to reflect on his long journey to the top table of European football.

"I honestly never think about it," said Redknapp, who confirmed Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa was training with the club and would join on loan from Spartak Moscow if he proved his fitness following a recent knee problem.

"I don't go home and think: 'Oh, 'Arry, you've done this'. I don't.

"It's great to be here, like every Saturday when you walk out in the Premier League and you go to Old Trafford or you go to Anfield, it's a great feeling just to be involved every week.

"I love it, when I come abroad like this in Europe, it's fantastic, it's exciting and it's good for Tottenham obviously.

"They've waited a long time for the chance to play in the Champions League. It's a really good opportunity for us now and one that we want to take."

Young Boys defender Christoph Spycher was relishing what is a real glamour tie for last season's Swiss runners-up.

The former Switzerland star told Press Association Sport: "For every player in Switzerland, it's really a great challenge to play against an English team, to play in an English stadium where always the atmosphere is really special."

Young Boys have made a poor start to their domestic season but stunned Fenerbahce in the previous Champions League qualifying round to set up their meeting with Spurs.

"We have some problems in the championship," Spycher said.

"We had some changes. It's not so easy to find the team because we lost also important players.

"But I think we showed against Fenerbahce that we can really make excellent games."

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