Redknapp backs Gallas for timely debut

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The Independent Football

William Gallas is set to make his debut for Tottenham Hotspur at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday after the former Arsenal defender yesterday came through a hastily arranged friendly at Spurs' training ground.

The 33-year-old was arrived on a free transfer last month, signed a one-year contract after he failed to agree terms with Arsenal. The Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp, had hoped to ease him into first-team action gently but the knee and ankle injuries sustained by Michael Dawson playing for England in their 4-0 victory over Bulgaria on Friday night have accelerated those calculations.

With Dawson out for up to two months, Redknapp has been keen to get Gallas match fit as quickly as possible and the France international came through 70 minutes of the reserves' 3-1 victory over Queens Park Rangers yesterday with a glowing endorsement from coach Tim Sherwood.

"It was William's first game for a while and it was excellent for the younger boys to play alongside him," Sherwood said. "He showed how he squeezes play up the pitch, how he uses his body and he manages the game superbly."

Gallas is now set to make his debut at The Hawthorns, although he faces competition from Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Bassong. He could also feature when Tottenham start their Champions League campaign at Werder Bremen next Tuesday.

Redknapp said the injury to Dawson has justified his decision to sign Gallas, even though some supporters have questioned the decision to recruit someone who was an Arsenal player for four years, and has a patchy injury record.

Redknapp said: "Thank God I went out and got William Gallas on a free transfer. That is looking an even better bit of business under the circumstances."