Redknapp promises 'strongest' team to face United

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The Independent Football

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has back-tracked on plans to field his 'weakest' side against Manchester United this weekend - but an injury crisis means fringe players will still get to fight for their futures.

Redknapp may have up to 11 players in the treatment room and admits tomorrow's FA Cup fourth-round tie at Old Trafford is way down on his list of priorities, with Spurs already in the Carling Cup final and fighting to climb out of trouble in the Barclays Premier League.

It means fit first-team players such as Didier Zokora, Jermain Defoe, David Bentley and Roman Pavlyuchenko will feature - and Giovani dos Santos, Ricardo Rocha and Adel Taarabt will get their chance to impress.

"I'm going to field the strongest team possible," said Redknapp, who won the trophy with Portsmouth last season.

"I've got so many injuries that it's way, way short of lots of players who are regulars in the team."

Redknapp insists he will respect the competition by fielding available first-team players, unlike Stoke and Blackburn earlier in the season.

"It's the greatest cup competition of all, but let's look at the other teams in the FA Cup this season who have put out a reserve team en bloc," he added.

"I saw a game not so long ago when I didn't know a player in the whole team. I'm not doing that. I'm going to play everyone who is fit."

The problem is how many players are out.

With Cesar Sanchez moving to Valencia and Heurelho Gomes injured, Ben Alnwick will be in goal and 16-year-old Mirko Ranieri will be on the bench - having stayed behind while the youth team travel for a tournament in Mexico.

In defence, Rocha will start - and Dorian Dervite is in the squad, while midfielder Giovani will get his first start since the arrival of Redknapp as boss.

"People keep telling me they are good players, so let's see how good they are," said Redknapp.

"They say Giovani is a real talent. Let's put him on the big stage at Old Trafford and see what he can do. He could be a real plus for us. He cost £5m, so should be a good player."

Redknapp got a glimpse of Taarabt at Burnley during the defeat at Turf Moor that saw Spurs sneak into the Carling Cup final.

"Taarabt came on against Burnley and was fantastic - he helped turn the game with his ability to run at people and beat them," the manager enthused.

That match saw Redknapp tear into his players, accusing them of sulking after his attempts to bolster his squad and increase competition for players.

"I'm not upset with the players," he said.

"They've done fantastic for me. I've lost one home game, and we've had a lot of matches. Our record's been excellent - and it's due to the players.

"We just don't have enough cover, and not enough thought was put into how the squad was put together."

With his injury concerns, getting a result against Sir Alex Ferguson's men will rank as an upset - although not on the scale of Redknapp's famous win with Bournemouth over United.

"No one wants to go anywhere and get beaten badly - nothing hurts you more," he said.

"It doesn't matter who you are."

Spurs and United could have agreed to play extra-time to try to force a result if the scores were level after 90 minutes of the tie - but they needed to inform the Football Association within a week of the draw.

Redknapp would have been reluctant in any case.

"I didn't know that," he said.

"I wouldn't want to try to change the traditions of the FA Cup. It's something I've always looked forward to and had a go at - I won it last season."

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