Modric back in running but Lennon still struggling

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The Independent Football

Tottenham Hotspur winger Aaron Lennon is expected to miss Saturday's Premier League match against Sunderland, although Harry Redknapp can take encouragement from Luka Modric's return to light training.

Modric has been out for two months with a fractured fibula, suffered in the win over Birmingham City, and Spurs staff are cautious about setting a date for the Croatia playmaker to return to action.

The 24-year-old is still considered a long-term absentee and will certainly be out for longer than Lennon, who has been earmarked for a return from his ankle injury after this month's international break, making him a doubt for England's friendly against Brazil in Qatar.

The striker Jermain Defoe is available for the Sunderland game this weekend after a three-match suspension but the centre-back Sébastien Bassong will miss out with a hamstring problem. Jonathan Woodgate could deputise after returning from a head injury suffered against Stoke.

Redknapp, the Spurs manager, feels his team have suffered without the attacking influence of Modric, Lennon and Defoe. "They are three of my best players," he said. "Modric is a world-class player in my opinion. Lennon is a threat when he has the ball and goes at people. Defoe has been in incredible form this year. Suddenly we miss him for three games. It's cost us dearly when he got sent off at Portsmouth."

Meanwhile, Spurs have announced an initial two-year club partnership with the Hong Kong club South China. "The relationship with the Hong Kong-based football club will look to focus on football and commercial development," read a statement from Spurs. According to reports in Hong Kong, South China striker Chan Siu-ki, 24, will undergo a 10-day trial at Spurs.

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