Scott Parker has hit out at the demands being put on Tottenham as they scrap for a potential return to the Champions League. Spurs will face Norwich at White Hart Lane this afternoon just two days after scrapping for a hard-fought point at Sunderland and Parker condemned as "ridiculous" and "shocking" the programme they have faced over Easter.
"It is ridiculous but that's the way it is," he said. "I don't think the rest of the world gets it, but it is absolutely shocking – we are playing in one of the quickest leagues in the world. I don't think you would ask any other sportsmen – or animals – to do this, but footballers in this country are expected to. We get all the best post-match treatment we can and just get on with it.
"Our run-in is pretty decent and it is in our hands. We have got to make the most of it by winning as many games as we can, starting against Norwich. That's a tough game as they have done very well.
"A top four finish is in our hands, but it is only human nature to look at the results of those around us and hope they slip up. You sit there wanting them to drop points but ultimately it is about us and winning as many games as we can. We can't just rely on our rivals to drop points because they are going to be winning games themselves, like they have been doing most of the season."
Spurs left the North-east with a scrappy point, one whose value will only become apparent once the season ends, but it is now only one win from seven in the league for Harry Redknapp's side and the fluidity that was a hallmark of their play earlier in the season was notable by its absence at the Stadium of Light. "The way it is turning out, the battle for the Champions League is becoming a race between ourselves and our derby rivals and now two of my former clubs [Chelsea and Newcastle]," said Parker. "It is going to be tight. We went to Sunderland looking to win and only managed a draw, so we are looking to bounce back in the next couple of games.
"Newcastle might say they are not Champions League [contenders] but, as far as we are concerned, they are in the thick of it. They have got to be top four contenders when you get to this stage of the season and they are in the position they are in. We certainly consider them to be rivals. You wouldn't have thought they would be in this position after we beat them 5-0 a few weeks ago, but they have gone about their business quite quietly and have been under the radar really until now."
Spurs v Norwich
Spurs: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Sandro, Parker, Bale, Modric, Defoe
Norwich: Ruddy, Naughton, Ward, Whitbread, R Martin, Surman, Crofts, Fox, Howson, Hoolahan, Holt
Odds Home 4-11; Draw 4-1; Away 7-1.
Kick-off Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC1 10.20pm)
Team news Harry Redknapp will give Aaron Lennon a start as he freshens things up on the Spurs flank. Jermain Defoe could start up front as Emmanuel Adebayor may be rested with half an eye on next weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea. Grant Holt, who is in a rich vein of form, will continue up front for Norwich.