Van der Vaart gives Redknapp extra problem

Dutchman's fitness and conduct add to worries facing Spurs manager in build-up to Real Madrid tie
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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, has added Rafael van der Vaart's fitness and conduct to the list of issues he needs to address ahead of next week's Champions League match against Real Madrid.

Redknapp is deciding whether to initiate a plan for facing Cristiano Ronaldo during the first leg of the quarter-final and is coping with a defensive injury crisis. Holding clear-the-air talks with Van der Vaart is also on his agenda.

Van der Vaart has complained about the number of times he has been substituted since his arrival from Real, and Redknapp is yet to talk to the Netherlands midfielder about his storming down the tunnel when he was taken off against West Ham United before the international break.

"I haven't even spoke to yet to him about it but I will do," Redknapp said. "I don't like anyone walking straight down the tunnel, I've never liked it."

Van der Vaart has completed eight matches for Spurs this season. Last week he had back-to-back European Championship qualifiers against Hungary, playing all but eight minutes of the double-header. It means he could be rested against Wigan Athletic today to save him for Tuesday.

"Well that is a problem for him – he tires in games at times and you pick up injuries when you get tired," Redknapp said. "That's why I've played him 65, 70, 75 minutes or whatever. And it's my decision, it's up to me what I do, if I decide to sub him I sub him."

Van der Vaart has been regarded as one of the bargains of the season but Redknapp has also highlighted the importance of William Gallas. "I think William would take some beating on a free transfer from my point of view here," Redknapp said. Gallas, who has a knee injury, is struggling to be fit to face Real and is considered a bigger doubt than Gareth Bale, who is nursing a hamstring problem.

Jose Mourinho, the Real manager, has ruled Ronaldo out of the Champions League tie, with Redknapp insisting the two managers are not playing mind games ahead of the clash at the Bernabeu.

He said: "There's no kidology with me. If you were out there in the morning you would have seen William, when he tried to kick the ball he collapsed. So he's no good. He has had two scans this week, I think that's the third he's had.

"Every time he goes to kick a ball he cannot strike it. I don't know whether he'll need an operation. We've shut him down again until Monday. I'm not kidding anyone about him. If Gareth was fit I'd play him against Wigan but he's not even travelling with us."

Alan Hutton will be out for one month with a knee injury. Tom Huddlestone, however, is in the squad to face Wigan after recovering from an ankle injury. "Tom had his first game in midweek, against Barnet," Redknapp said. "We fixed that up on Tuesday and he came through OK, so he'll be with us against Wigan."