Rap for Ruddock would be wrong says Redknapp

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HARRY REDKNAPP, the West Ham United manager, insists that any punishment for Neil Ruddock following the fracas with Patrick Vieira would be "ridiculous." The Arsenal midfielder was seen spitting at the Hammers defender after being sent off in the recent Premiership game at Upton Park.

HARRY REDKNAPP, the West Ham United manager, insists that any punishment for Neil Ruddock following the fracas with Patrick Vieira would be "ridiculous." The Arsenal midfielder was seen spitting at the Hammers defender after being sent off in the recent Premiership game at Upton Park.

Vieira faces a severe punishment from the Football Association, but Arsÿne Wenger, the Gunners manager, believes Ruddock should also be disciplined for his part in the incident. Redknapp, though, has dismissed those claims.

"It's absolute rubbish, a load of nonsense," he said. "I realise that Arsenal are trying to help their player, but to suggest that Ruddock should also be punished for that incident is ridiculous. He didn't spit at anyone."

Vieira claimed he had been provoked into his actions by Ruddock throughout the London derby, leading Wenger to call for the authorities to find a way "to punish the provocateurs as well". "If the FA punish people who react they have to surely punish those who provoke. That is only fair," said Wenger.

Redknapp was also angered by Wenger's suggestions that Paolo Di Canio "cheated" for the two fouls on him by Vieira which led to his dismissal. "They were two fouls. I don't think they warranted a red card, but they were definitely fouls."

Bournemouth's Worthington Cup visit to West Ham tonight will revive mixed memories for Redknapp. The Hammers manager still remembers the dilemma he found himself in when the time came to step up from assistant manager at Upton Park. Redknapp, once a winger at the club, felt like he had won the Lottery when he was put in charge at West Ham, but it was at the cost of his close friendship with Billy Bonds. The situation came to a head for Redknapp when he was assistant to Bonds and on tour to Scotland just before the 1994-95 season.

He explained: "I received a call from Geoffrey Hayward, a former chairman at Dean Court, who wanted to buy the club on one condition - that I went back there. I was very interested in Hayward's proposition."

When Redknapp broke the news of the offer to Bonds his former team-mate agreed it was a great opportunity but said if his close friend left West Ham he would probably do so too. That disturbed Redknapp. The next day news of the offer leaked out, and Redknapp and Bonds were called in to see the Hammers' chairman, Terry Brown. Redknapp was then offered the job of manager of West Ham, with Bonds being given a chance to move upstairs as director of football. But it left a sour taste for Bonds, who decided to resign, with Redknapp left to take the manager's job.

For tonight's game, the good news is that Rio Ferdinand has shaken off an ankle injury and is expected to return. The 20-year-old England defender damaged ankle ligaments at Bradford in August, but played 45 minutes for the Rest of the World XI in Sir Alex Ferguson's testimonial on Monday night.

Bournemouth, meanwhile, have just one new injury worry - to Richard Hughes (groin) - who joins John Bailey on the sidelines.

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