Ferdinand refuses to play safe for final

Click to follow

Les Ferdinand is prepared to risk missing out on the Worthington Cup final in a bid to play for Tottenham against Leicester in Saturday's Premiership match at White Hart Lane.

Ferdinand, Spurs' leading scorer, the club captain Teddy Sheringham and defender Chris Perry are all one booking away from a suspension which would rule them out of the 24 February final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Glenn Hoddle, the Tottenham manager, left Ferdinand and Sheringham on the bench and rested Perry for Tuesday's FA Cup fourth-round victory over Bolton. The signs are that he will adopt the same safety-first policy this weekend.

However, 14-goal Ferdinand, who has missed the last four matches with a neck injury, is keen to play. "The situation with the yellow cards is not playing on my mind," he said. "If the manager sees fit to play me, then that is what I will do. I would keep my fingers crossed that I wouldn't get booked, but if it happens and I miss the final, then that is how it is meant to be.

"I am not thinking that I don't want to play because I want to save myself for the final. I've been out for a few weeks now with a whiplash problem and I need a game under my belt. I would like to come back into the team on Saturday.

"But I am sure the manager will review his options and if he thinks it is best for me to sit out Saturday's game then that is what I will have to do."

Hoddle has been given a boost because the Argentinian defender Mauricio Taricco has had one of his four yellow cards wiped from the record books. As he no longer risks being suspended for the final, he played in Tuiesday's FA Cup victory over Bolton. Spurs successfully argued that Taricco had been the victim of mistaken identity when the referee, Steve Bennett, booked him after a tackle on Matt Jansen by Perry during the New Year's Day encounter with Blackburn.

Darren Anderton concurs with Hoddle's assessment that he is at the peak of his career, revealing how he has matured as he has got older. Anderton is earning rave reviews this season and after scoring one goal and making another two last night in front of the England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, his international stock has risen again. "Darren is playing as well as at any time in his entire career, as well as any midfielder in the country," Hoddle said. "At 29, he is at his absolute peak."

Anderton is now hoping to be given a chance to stake a claim for a place in Eriksson's World Cup squad by being selected for next week's friendly against the Netherlands. "This is the most consistent year I've had and dominating games comes from playing in the middle of the pitch and having good players around you," he said. "I am now a different sort of player to what I was in terms of experience and maturity.

"English football is in a very healthy position at the moment and it is nice to be talked about again as part of the set-up."