Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas talks ups goalkeeper Hugo Lloris ahead of expected debut


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The Independent Football

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has hailed the quality of Hugo Lloris ahead of what is expected to be the Frenchman's debut in tonight's Europa League clash against Lazio.

Lloris and Villas-Boas have had a rocky start to their relationship at Spurs, with the latter's public show of support for Brad Friedel said to have disappointed the £8million deadline day signing from Lyon.

Villas-Boas opted to stick with Friedel for Sunday's victory over Reading, but the 41-year-old is likely to start tonight's Group J clash on the bench.

Although Villas-Boas would not confirm his starting line-up yesterday, it is clear that the Portuguese has been impressed by the 25-year-old's efforts in what has been his first full week at the club's new training ground in Enfield.

"The first two days after the international week (and before the Reading game) were more like recovery days for him," Villas-Boas said.

"From then on he was training more with (goalkeeping coach) Tony Parks to get used to his methods, which is very, very important. And obviously he mixed in with what we were doing on the pitch.

"The only thing we can say is that his talent is immense and easily visible from the time he has trained with us."

Villas-Boas has vowed to take the competition seriously and will therefore name a strong line-up for tonight's game, and the likes of Jermain Defoe, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen should all start.

Their opponents have also vowed to stick to their first XI as they go in search of their sixth consecutive win of the season.

Lazio are joint top of Serie A after three impressive wins and they also cruised through their Europa League qualifier against ND Mura.

Lazio head coach Vladimir Petkovic said: "Rotation will come further down the line. At the moment the players aren't tired so I think it's important to keep them playing to continue this series of good performances.

"For now the players who are playing well will continue."

One person who will not be at the game at White Hart Lane will be former Tottenham and Lazio star Paul Gascoigne.

The troubled star was invited to the game but turned down the offer for "personal reasons".

Petkovic hopes the ex-England midfielder will be able to make the reverse fixture in Rome in November.

"I followed Gascoigne when he was at Lazio and I know he was an idol to the fans so I am very sorry that he won't be there tomorrow and that he is having these problems at the moment," Petkovic told a press conference at White Hart Lane last night.

"I certainly hope that with the inner strength that he undoubtedly has, he will be able to recover and that he will be in Rome."