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Premier League

Harry Redknapp insists Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe will not be sold


Harry Redknapp insists Jermain Defoe will not be leaving Tottenham in January and has backed the striker to force his way in to England's Euro 2012 squad.

Defoe has not started Spurs' last five Barclays Premier League games, with Redknapp preferring to partner Emmanuel Adebayor with Rafael van der Vaart, and the England hitman revealed today that he is worried about missing out Fabio Capello's Euro 2012 squad.

The former West Ham striker has not played a competitive game for England since September 2010 and was recently left out of the Three Lions squad for the friendlies against Spain and Sweden.

Van der Vaart is struggling with a hamstring injury for tomorrow's game at West Brom, but frustratingly for Defoe, he may miss the trip to the midlands with a groin problem.

Defoe reminded Redknapp of his potency in midweek when he scored five goals in the reserves against Charlton and the Spurs boss has spoken to his striker to reassure him that he will get his chance in the first team in the coming weeks.

Defoe appears determined to win back his first-team place and Redknapp admits there is no way he would sell him in the January transfer window.

"I wouldn't sell him. He is a fantastic player," Redknapp said.

"In midweek he scored five goals against Charlton. They were incredible finishes.

"He is a top player. He has just been unlucky. Adebayor came in and has done great up front and Rafa has been in fantastic form.

"I had a chat with Jermain in the week. Rafa is struggling with a hamstring and Jermain has a tight groin this weekend, but he will get his opportunities when he is fit and I am sure he will take them."

Time is running out for Defoe to persuade Capello that he can replace the suspended Wayne Rooney in England's group games next summer, but Redknapp is sure that the man he has managed at three different clubs during his career will be on the plane to Poland and the Ukraine.

"I don't pick the squad, that's up to Fabio Capello, but Jermain is a top-class striker so there is no reason why he shouldn't be in the squad.

"He is up there. Rooney is top-class and after that it's a very difficult one. We have four or five strikers and there isn't much to choose between them."

Tottenham have made huge strides over the last two months, bouncing back from a poor start to go on a nine-match unbeaten run which has rocketed the club up to third in the table.

They have dropped just two points since the 5-1 defeat to Manchester City and Redknapp admitted after Monday night's victory over Aston Villa that he considers his team genuine title challengers.

The 64-year-old, who returned to the dugout on Monday after three weeks off due to a minor heart procedure, admits his team are playing at their best, but has warned them of the dangers of complacency, especially against teams like West Brom, who they are expected to beat.

"The season is just over a quarter of the way through," Redknapp said.

"We have a tough game tomorrow. I have never been to West Brom and had an easy game. They have a fantastic manager and they will be a difficult opponent for us. We have just got to keep our feet on ground now and try to keep on picking up results."

The club's upturn in form has left Redknapp confident that he will not have to venture in to the transfer market when the window opens, although he did today declare his admiration for reported target Junior Hoilett, who is out of contract at Blackburn next summer.

"He (Hoilett) is a good player. We have never made any enquiries for him, but he has been an exciting little player this year."