Forward rivalry with Keane spurs on Defoe

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The Independent Football

The Tottenham Hotspur striker Jermain Defoe claimed yesterday he may have needed to score a hat-trick on Wednesday night just to keep his place in the team. Defoe is hitting a rich vein of form, with three goals in Spurs' convincing 5-1 Premier League win at Hull.

The victory lifted Spurs to the top of the table after two games and, with Robbie Keane also on target and Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko waiting for a start, Defoe is excited about the team's prospects.

Defoe said: "It gives us massive confidence to get the three points and everyone's done their part. Scoring goals does give you confidence and I just want to keep it going, keep working hard and, hopefully, I'll get more. I'm playing in a good team so I know I'm going to get chances, it's just down to me to take them. But there is no guarantee you are going to play. That keeps you on your toes and when you get an opportunity you've got to take it, otherwise you mightn't be playing the next game."

His manager, Harry Redknapp, paid tribute to the 26-year-old for the hard work he has done over the summer. Redknapp claimed Defoe was now a stronger player and the former Portsmouth forward is pleased his efforts are receiving reward.

"I want to score in every game, being a forward," Defoe said. "I've been in the gym pre-season and really put it in. Hopefully, I'm now benefiting from it. I want to keep it going now."

Defoe and Keane will be expected to lead the line again against West Ham United on Sunday. Spurs' other goal at the KC Stadium came from Wilson Palacios while the midfielders Luka Modric, Aaron Lennon and Tom Huddlestone were also threatening.

Redknapp is pleased to have so many players carrying an attacking threat at his disposal. "We're in good form and when you look at the bench we've got Crouchie who can't get in the team," Redknapp said. "He is a terrific asset to us and we've got Pavlyuchenko as well. We're very strong in that department."

Redknapp's current problems are all in defence, with Ledley King unable to feature at Hull and joining Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson on the sidelines.

King is hopeful his troublesome knee might ease sufficiently for him to face West Ham but the goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes is likely to be out after going off with a thigh injury at Hull.

"Ledley doesn't train at all," Redknapp said. "He's been out on the training ground twice since last season. His knee is like a balloon but it's starting to go down. On Saturday, hopefully, he'll give me the thumbs up and he'll come and play on Sunday and be on another level."