Keane backs Spurs bench to do the job

Striker claims Tottenham's superior depth gives them the edge over rivals Arsenal
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Robbie Keane has kicked off the mind games ahead of this weekend's derby against Arsenal by insisting Harry Redknapp has the greater strength in depth in his Tottenham squad.

Spurs are level on points with their bitter rivals in the Premier League, having played an extra game, but there is genuine hope at White Hart Lane about finishing in the top four this season.

The two clubs look similarly matched in terms of quality ahead of Saturday's Emirates Stadium clash, but Keane claims Spurs' bench gives them the edge.

"You look at the two squads and we're definitely on a par," he said. "In the last four or five years Arsenal always managed to get ahead of us but if you look now it is even. It will be judged at the end of the season but if you look at the bench we have, it is probably a bit stronger than their bench.

"The mentality around the club in previous seasons was that we would be happy to finish fifth or qualify for the Uefa Cup but there is a different feeling now. The players have the feeling that we want to get to the Champions League.

"You can take away Saturday's game because anything can happen in a north London derby – but we need to be judging ourselves against teams like Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea over a season. It's still early days but we're in the top four now. If we can get to Christmas still around there, we'd certainly have every chance."

Keane picked up a knock to his ankle in the Carling Cup victory over Everton but should be available, along with Peter Crouch, Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate after recent injuries.

Aaron Lennon is expected to miss out with an ankle problem but David Bentley staked his claim to deputise with his performance in the 2-0 win over David Moyes' men.

Carlo Cudicini is also nursing a slight injury but would struggle to be picked ahead of Heurelho Gomes even if fit.

Gomes, after making three vital saves against Everton, said: "This period is my best moment since I joined Tottenham."

The former PSV Eindhoven goalkeeper added: "I feel fit, I am confident and I am sharp, so I can help Tottenham all the time. I don't have the problems that were affecting me last year. I am okay now. We played really well against Everton and it's great to be in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup. Now, we're looking forward to the Arsenal game."

Redknapp has been impressed by Gomes and left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto. He said: "He's a good keeper in great form. He's improved as the left-back has – he is one of the most improved you'll see.

"When I first came I wasn't too sure about how good he was but he's got better and better and is up there with the best left-backs in the Premier League."

* Peter Taylor has held brief talks with Ipswich Town manager Roy Keane about joining the coaching staff at Portman Road. Former Hull, Crystal Palace and England Under-21 manager Taylor is available having been sacked by Wycombe earlier this month and Keane is thought to want an experienced coach alongside him as he bids to turn around Town's poor start to the season.