Europa League preview: Yoga and pilates put spring in step of stretched Spurs


Click to follow
The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp is hoping yoga and pilates will help his Tottenham squad as they attempt to juggle the Europa League with their main priorities this season.

Key players will be rested for tonight's tie against Rubin Kazan at White Hart Lane and Redknapp has a shortage of cover in central defence, meaning Jake Livermore may be asked to play out of position. With seven players unavailable, Spurs are stretched in their bid for a top-four place. But Redknapp at least feels players his players are getting the best possible preparation for training after a new warm-up was introduced by goalkeeper Brad Friedel's yoga instructor.

"We have been getting into doing the yoga and I think pilates is just an amazing," Redknapp said. "It's great for them so they are all doing it now. I think it makes them supple. I joined in last week with all the coaches. I had sciatica for the next three nights, so I went missing when they were doing it next. But it's a great thing to do.

"When I started out as a manager, we didn't know what yoga was. You didn't even go on the pitch before the game. It didn't happen when England won the World Cup at Wembley."

Ledley King, William Gallas, Michael Dawson and Vedran Corluka are on the treatment table and will not return in time for Sunday's trip to Blackburn. Tom Huddlestone, Steven Pienaar and Niko Kranjcar are also out. But Aaron Lennon and Sandro are ready to return in midfield.

Redknapp also criticised the idea of scrapping Premier League relegation, which was put forward by some foreign owners. "[The FA] have got to be strong," he said. "They cannot let that happen to our game. How can you not have promotion and relegation? It's scandalous."

Stoke City v Maccabi Tel Aviv: Pulis happy with player mentality

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis has praised his players' professionalism as the club face a hectic schedule of European and domestic fixtures. Pulis will again rotate for tonight's visit of Maccabi Tel Aviv, the club's 15th game of the season. "The attitude around the place is fantastic, and that is what I want," he said. Kenwyne Jones may start, along with Robert Huth and Thomas Sorensen. Danny Higginbotham – out since April with a knee injury – may also be involved.

Wisla Krakow v Fulham: Jol seeks more consistency

Fulham take on Wisla Krakow in Poland tonight seeking to maintain their unbeaten record in Europa League Group K. Martin Jol's side have lost just one of 10 matches in the competition but have struggled to balance that with consistency in the Premier League, following up the 6-0 thrashing of QPR with a 2-0 defeat at Stoke last weekend. Damien Duff should be recalled, although Simon Davies (knee) remains out and Bryan Ruiz is cup-tied.

Club Bruges v Birmingham City: Birmingham hit by Carr trouble

Birmingham captain Stephen Carr misses tonight's trip to Bruges after aggravating a knee problem during Sunday's win over Leicester. Jonathan Spector stands by to deputise, while Curtis Davies has also been included in the squad. The centre-back is in contention for a first appearance in a month following a knee injury but may not be risked. Manager Chris Hughton is considering a number of changes to his City side, who sit third in the group.

Rennes v Celtic: Depleted squad hampers Hoops

Neil Lennon will choose from a depleted squad for tonight's trip to Rennes. The Celtic manager knew he would be without cup-tied Badr El-Kaddouri, but must now do without Gary Hooper, who injured an ankle at Kilmarnock last weekend. Georgios Samaras also misses out with a bruised ankle, while Kris Commons picked up a calf injury in training. "Everyone is not fit," assistant Johan Mjallby said. "But we still have a good number of players whose strength is in attack."