Redknapp calls on Defoe to lead top-four charge

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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp has warned that Tottenham risk losing ground in the push for Champions League qualification unless his strikers start delivering. With almost two-thirds of the season gone, Spurs have only scored 37 goals in 24 matches compared to the 49 they had amassed at the same stage last term.

While Rafael van der Vaart has made an excellent start to his first season by scoring nine league goals, Jermain Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch have struck just seven times between them. Defoe, who scored 28 goals for club and country last season, has seen his form dip this year and is yet to find the net in the Premier League.

After seeing a deadline-day bid for Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi fail, and sending Robbie Keane on loan to West Ham, Redknapp is keen for Defoe, Crouch and Pavlyuchenko to start delivering fast.

"They are our strike force now," Redknapp said. "We are relying on those three to produce the goals. Van der Vaart is the only man who has got his ratio of goals. We need the strikers to start scoring regularly as well."

Defoe's failure to find the net is the most alarming for Redknapp, who has been able to rely on the 28-year-old during his spells at West Ham and Portsmouth. Defoe's progress has not been helped by an ankle ligament injury he picked up on international duty in September that ruled him out of action for two months.

His manager insists he is not too concerned about the striker's goal drought and is sure that he is capable of helping keep alive Spurs' dreams of making the Champions League for a second successive season. "We are waiting for him to suddenly have that burst of goals that could make the difference to us," Redknapp said.

"If he can go on a run and score some goals he can take us where we want to go. We are relying on him. He is a fantastic finisher. Goalscorers need confidence. The other night he had a couple of one on ones that he would normally score [but] once they do start going in for him he will start going on a run."