Adams and Stefanovic make up at Pompey

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The Independent Online

The Portsmouth manager, Harry Redknapp, has stepped into the conflict between Tony Adams and Dejan Stefanovic and maintains that peace has broken out between the pair.

Stefanovic, the club captain, was infuriated by Adams' public criticism of him, the assistant manager blaming the 32-year-old defender for goals recently conceded from set-pieces against Manchester United, Fulham and Watford. And Stefanovic, who is playing on despite a knee injury, was rumoured to be seeking a showdown with the former Arsenal and England defender, who became Redknapp's right-hand man at the start of the season.

But Redknapp maintains there is "no problem" between the duo now - and Stefanovic is to line up at left-back against Newcastle at St James' Park tomorrow before having an operation.

"I don't know who Tony said those things to but he speaks his mind and it upset Dejan," Redknapp said. "I had a word with the skipper, he and Tony have spoken and there is no malice in it. We've got over it and now we all move on. I have had no problem with Dejan.

"When I first came back here from Southampton he was a big help to me and played on when he should have had an operation on his ankle because we were so short of numbers. He had the operation eventually but then came back much earlier than we thought he would and played a big part in us escaping relegation."

Redknapp's latest piece of man-management shows why he is suited to a comfortable club like Pompey rather than one of the bigger names. He claims he has never hankered to be manager of a major club, but still rejoices in the fact that with the financial backing of the club's new owner, Alexandre Gaydamak, he has been able to introduce high-quality players to the squad to insure against another season of struggle.

Pompey start the weekend third in the table and with designs on a top-six finish. Yet Redknapp fears one of the major sides could still put together a successful run that will wreck Pompey's ambitions - including Newcastle who are currently floating just above the relegation positions but still making impressive progress in the Uefa Cup, with a victory over Spain's Celta Vigo following a 1-1 league draw at Arsenal.

Redknapp, whose side suffered a 3-0 defeat in the Carling Cup at St James' Park a month ago when torrential rain was a major factor, said: "Tottenham and Newcastle, with the squads they have, are surely going to have a big run at some time in the season.

"Newcastle have a good team, a very good squad and some very expensive players like Nolberto Solano, Damien Duff and Kieron Dyer who has just come back.

"The manager Glenn Roeder has also banked on Obafemi Martins to get goals and he's quick and bright and will get them. Newcastle have also paid around £6m for Titus Bramble and £9m or so for Albert Luque.

"There is plenty of quality there and they are one of those teams who should be too good to go down.

"We are aiming for the top six but we haven't spent that much this season - €3m [£2m)] for Niko Kranjcar and a million or so each for David James and Andy Cole. We may have to re-stock in defence in January but we will see how it goes. If we can get our best team we are afraid of nobody but injuries to people like Glen Johnson have left us stretched.

"But we've picked up Kanu on a free and at the moment he is outscoring everybody. Eight goals in 12 games is some record."

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