Fighting-fit Redknapp is back in hot seat for Villa


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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp has maintained almost daily contact with his coaching staff during his two-week convalescence following heart surgery and could resume his managerial duties in time for Tottenham's Premier League game with Aston Villa on Monday night, provided the 64-year-old is granted medical dispensation to do so.

The Spurs manager had two stents inserted into his coronary arteries two weeks ago and was expected to spend at least a month recuperating from the operation. Though Redknapp missed his side's games with Rubin Kazan and Fulham as he rested at home, he has always been confident of returning to the touchline on Monday, substantially ahead of schedule.

Redknapp has already written his programme notes for the visit of Alex McLeish's side and Joe Jordan, his stand-in, revealed yesterday he has requested regular fitness updates on his players during the international break.

Indeed, so keen to return to work is Redknapp that, pending medical approval, he may even visit Spurs' Essex training base this weekend, something which Jordan admits may come as a relief to the manager's wife, Sandra.

"It will be tough on her," Jordan joked, when asked how Mrs Redknapp would be coping with a house-bound husband. "Harry's life is his family and his football, and there's no doubt that he is a family man, but she will enjoy him going out to training.

"Hopefully, he will be back soon. It will depend on his conversations with the medical people, the consultant and the surgeon who did the initial operation. He is feeling good and he sounds good. I'd think there is a possibility he will be back for the Villa game and maybe he will pop in during the lead-up to that game. He is very keen and optimistic there is a chance of that.

"Over the last couple of weeks, the most important thing was for him to rest, and that is what he has done. He has been in contact with people but we have left him alone and have not been on to him unless it was really important. You do not want to be battering him with phone calls. When he rings we let him know what the situation with a certain player is. He is hearing it from the medical staff or the media, and wants to know whether it is right about Vedran Corluka's ankle or Rafael van der Vaart. He knows on a day-to-day basis where we are with certain individuals and what is laid out between now and Monday. That is something that has given him peace of mind."

At least the news Jordan and Redknapp's assistant manager, Kevin Bond, have had to impart has been largely positive. Corluka is expected to be fit for Monday, while Van der Vaart is currently rated as "75 per cent" ready by the club's medical staff, meaning Redknapp will have almost a full squad to choose from.

Their excellent run looked under threat at Fulham two weeks ago, a game Jordan feels proved that it might be better for Redknapp's health if he is in full control of his team, rather than helplessly watching his players indulge their taste for drama from the comfort of his Sandbanks home.

"If he comes to the game he will be on the bench, not in the stands," said Jordan. "It would not have been too easy for him to watch our last game on TV. It would have been torture not making decisions or substitutions. He will have suffered a lot more."