Defoe to return next week against Rovers

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The Independent Football

A good week for Tottenham Hotspur has been improved by the news that Jermain Defoe hopes to make his comeback from an ankle injury in their home match with Blackburn Rovers a week tomorrow. This would be a quicker recovery than expected for the England striker, who was initially feared to be out for up to three months after damaging ankle ligaments on international duty in early September.

Since an operation which he said "went well", Defoe has been doing a programme of running and gym work, overseen by the Spurs physio Nathan Gardiner. He is yet to do any twisting or turning but after an appointment with his specialist yesterday he should be ready to start full training next week. Defoe was upbeat about both his resistance to and his ability to recover from injuries, saying: "I've always said I had special blood." He promised fans that "when I come back I'll be stronger than before".

Defoe has not played for Spurs since the 1-0 home defeat by Wigan in late August, although he did start both of England's Euro 2012 qualifiers in early September, scoring a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Bulgaria at Wembley.

That means he is yet to play either in the Champions League group stage or with Spurs' new signing Rafael van der Vaart. When asked about the Champions League, Defoe said that Spurs should not hope for a relatively easy draw should they progress from the group stage. "You've got to strive high," he said, before comparing hopes for an easier draw in the Champions League with those in the World Cup. "You've got to beat the best," he said.

Since the arrival of Van der Vaart, Harry Redknapp's favoured system has seen the Dutchman playing behind a lone striker. While Van der Vaart has flourished behind the aerial presence of Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko, Defoe believes himself to be equally suited to partnering the former Real Madrid man. "It would be like for England, when Wayne Rooney plays just behind me," Defoe said, praising Van der Vaart as a "special player" whose ability to play him in behind defenders could prove fruitful for Spurs.

Defoe was similarly effusive about Gareth Bale, another star of Spurs' season so far. "We're not surprised, we knew he was always going to be there," said Defoe of Bale. "No one really does what he does." The current form of Van der Vaart and Bale was enough for Defoe to describe this Spurs squad as the best he has ever played in.

Defoe was speaking at an event for the children's charity Kids Taskforce, whose focus is on child safety, for whom he is a UK ambassador. He was handing on books donated by the charity to the St Lucia High Commissioner – Defoe's family are from the island and he visits regularly – in an effort to offer some assistance in the wake of the destruction wrought this week by Hurricane Tomas.