Redknapp: 'It wasn't malicious – I've seen a lot worse'

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The Independent Online

Harry Redknapp defended Tom Huddlestone last night as the "most un-aggressive player" at his club after FC Twente claimed that the midfielder could have been sent off for an elbow to the jaw of striker Marc Janko

The England international was not dismissed on a dramatic night at White Hart Lane in which Norwegian referee Terje Hauge gave three penalties to Spurs and dismissed the Dutch midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart on 63 minutes. The Twente coach Michel Preud'homme said that his players told him about the incident at half-time. "The decision has to be taken by the referee, not me," Preud'homme said

Redknapp, whose team held on with 10 men to win 4-1, said: "Tom is the most un-aggressive player at the club. If he has done something I will look at it."

There were more complaints from Preud'homme who believed that Twente should have had a penalty for what he said was a handball by Peter Crouch in the Spurs area. "If you take a decision for one side, you have to take it for the other side," he said. "I was upset because I felt that the players did not feel that was happening. You always want to defend your players."

Even Redknapp conceded that the third penalty awarded to Spurs, for what the referee thought was a handball by defender Peter Wisgerhof when Roman Pavlyuchenko shot at goal, was "soft".

Redknapp said: "It was exciting stuff. The first two penalties were blatant and I don't know how you couldn't give them.

"Crouch was pulled down, wrestled to the floor. For the second one [Gareth] Bale beat the fella [Roberto Rosales] like he did all night and was pulled down. It was a blatant penalty. On the third the ball travelled a long way and it was a soft penalty but you see them given. There was nothing wrong with Van der Vaart's goal [the first Spurs goal] and it was a fantastic finish from Bale at the end [for Spurs' fourth]." Van der Vaart missed the first penalty and, having scored, was sent off after the hour for a second yellow card. Roman Pavlyuchenko scored Spurs second and third penalties. The Dutch international joked that his Spurs team-mates would have to win without him against Internazionale in Italy next month after his red card meant that he completed the "full house".

Redknapp said that he had considered replacing Van der Vaart when he was on a booking. The Spurs manager said: "I was thinking about subbing him just before he got sent off. He made a bit of a rash challenge on the other side and I was concerned that if he made one more that was mistimed he'd be off. It wasn't a malicious challenge. It was a bad forward's challenge. I've seen a lot worse."

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