Freak Pavlyuchenko injury hits Spurs plan


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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp had wanted to change his entire Tottenham Hotspur team for tonight's Europa League home match against PAOK Salonika, but Jermain Defoe may have to play after a training ground injury to Roman Pavlyuchenko.

The Russian striker, who has scored in the last two European games at White Hart Lane, was accidentally headbutted in the knee by Andros Townsend. "It's very swollen," Redknapp said. "He banged it on Andros Townsend's head as Andros slipped and hit his knee."

Redknapp is hoping his policy of resting players will benefit his team later in the campaign. He had to juggle last season when his team reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League. "After the Real Madrid game last season, we fell away a bit but if we'd have had a decent run then we'd have been very close last year," the Spurs manager added.

"Certainly, we'd have made the Champions League but like a lot of teams, we couldn't sustain it late on. But we are bang there again this year. That's where we are now, we are a top-six team, we could get into the top four and who knows from there."

Redknapp's first-choice players are expected to be recalled should they reach the Europa League knockout stages, which is why resting them now is important. "I'm sure if we go through to the next stage things will change a bit," said goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini. "It's a long competition but it's a trophy and it's worth trying to win it."

Tottenham Hotspur (probable, 4-4-2): Cudicini; Corluka, Gallas, Bassong, Rose; Pienaar, Livermore, Sandro, Carroll; Kane, Defoe.

PAOK Salonika (probable, 4-3-3): Chalkias; Etto, Contreras, Malezas, Sznaucner; Arias, Garcia, Fotakis; Salpingidis, Athanasiadis, Georgiadis.