John Terry absence for Chelsea not major factor says Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas

 

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas says the absence of John Terry will not be a major factor as he prepares to welcome his former club Chelsea to White Hart Lane tomorrow.

Villas-Boas, sacked by the Blues in March after less than nine months in charge, insists Chelsea have enough strength in depth to cope without the central defender, who starts a four-match ban for racial abuse.

Villas-Boas said: "A player of this dimension is always sorely missed. But in the end, I've worked with those players in the past and the reality is in that precise sector we never had problems. Other centre-backs are tremendously good too."

West Brom head coach Steve Clarke has warned his buoyant Baggies they face the biggest test of their season so far as they prepare to meet Manchester City at The Hawthorns.

Clarke said: "I think it's the biggest test we've faced at home so far this season. We've not had easy home games, but champions are champions. These are the games you have to relish and look forward to, and we do."

Chris Hughton's Norwich head into their Carrow Road clash with Arsenal undaunted by their winless start to the season and warning pundits to write off their survival chances at their peril.

Winger Elliott Bennett said: "People did not think we would stay up last season but we did. The more people who go against this team, the better we seem to be."

Andy Carroll is set to start for West Ham at home to Southampton after recovering from a hamstring injury, with fellow striker Ricardo Vaz Te ruled out for three months with a shoulder injury.

Saints are without record signing Gaston Ramirez and boss Nigel Adkins expects a tough game, insisting: "They've had a great start to the campaign. They are very effective and I have a lot of respect for Sam Allardyce."

Fulham face a striker shortage at home to Aston Villa with Dimitar Berbatov struggling to shake off a hip injury and Bryan Ruiz also facing a late test after picking up an injury on international duty.

Ryan Shawcross is expected to shrug off his late return from international duty with England to line up for Stoke at Old Trafford, while Reading go in search of their first win of the season against Liverpool at Anfield.

Wigan travel to Swansea with boss Roberto Martinez refusing to rule out a swoop for Honduran international Roger Espinoza. Martinez said: "We have got a really strong link with Honduras, so it (the link) doesn't surprise me."

In Sunday action, Martin O'Neill takes charge of his first home Wear-Tyne derby when Newcastle visit the Stadium of Light, and Everton bid to heap more woe on beleaguered QPR boss Mark Hughes at Loftus Road.

PA

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