Redknapp backs new double act

Manager confident Defoe and Keane will form successful partnership
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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, sees no reason why his new captain Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe cannot form a lethal partnership for the club second time around.

The strikers have been reunited at White Hart Lane as Redknapp was busy during the January sales strengthening his squad.

Spurs have, of course, been here before under both Martin Jol and Juande Ramos, who believed the strikers were too similar to be paired together effectively. Defoe eventually quit for Portsmouth last year, only to follow Redknapp to north London from Fratton Park.

Although the England forward is set to be out of action for around 10 weeks because of a foot injury, Redknapp sees no reason why he and Keane – signed on deadline day from Liverpool – should not be able to make it work once Defoe returns.

"I don't see a problem. Robbie and Jermain can play together," Redknapp said. "I wanted them both, I know them and they are good players – good players can always play together."

The former Republic of Ireland manager Steve Staunton, who had Keane in his side when in charge between 2006 and 2007, is in no doubt Keane and Defoe can strike up a decent partnership. "Robbie Keane can play with any centre-forward in the world," Staunton said.

"He can play as the top striker on his own, or he can play off the top striker. Robbie Keane is a footballer. Jermain Defoe is an out-and-out striker. They can play together."

Staunton, who spent seven years at Liverpool during his playing career, can understand why Keane got frustrated at what he saw as a lack of opportunities following a £20m move to Anfield last summer.

"Obviously, he is going to get more game time at Tottenham, a lot more football, which he has been lacking over the last six months," Staunton said. "It didn't go right [at Liverpool]. Whatever went on up there, no one knows, only Robbie and [manager] Rafa [Benitez].

"He didn't play too many games and, like any other footballer, he got very frustrated at not playing. He feels good in himself when he's playing and I think going back to Spurs will be a great move for him, especially with Harry being there. From Robbie's point of view he is very lucky that he got a move back to Spurs and I think there is only more to come from him."

Keane has been installed as the new Tottenham team captain, and looks set to go straight into the side partnering Roman Pavlyuchenko against Arsenal at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Redknapp had no qualms in handing the Republic of Ireland forward the armband. "Robbie is a terrific character, I got to know him through Jamie [Redknapp] over the years and he is a real bubbly personality," he said. "If you talk to all the staff, the girls who work at the training ground – Robbie has always been the one who comes up at Christmas and buys them a little present. He is a real good lad and, hopefully, we will see him buzzing on Sunday."

The defender Pascal Chimbonda also returned to Spurs during the transfer window as Redknapp sought out the personnel he feels will have the stomach for a successful battle against relegation.

The Spurs manager, who replaced Ramos in late October, sees no reason why things should not work out for all three old boys this time around.

"They were always good players in my opinion and it was circumstances that resulted in their exits," Redknapp said. "I am sure the club did not want to lose any of them in the first place, but they are all back here now and, for me, they are terrific players."

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