Redknapp faces juggling act in European quest

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The Independent Online

Harry Redknapp may feel he will not have to wheel and deal when the transfer window opens up again to keep Portsmouth on track for Europe, but concedes that his squad could struggle to stay fighting fit over the holiday.

The South Coast club consolidated their place in the top six of the Premiership on Boxing Day with another impressive away win to inflict more problems on struggling West Ham.

A trip to fellow high-flyers Bolton comes on Saturday, before they play Tottenham at Fratton Park on 1 January. By then, the speculation about who is moving where will be in overdrive, with Portsmouth linked to a £4m move for the Norwich and Wales striker Robert Earnshaw.

But Redknapp maintains he is fully prepared to "crack on as we are" should funds not be forthcoming from the club's owner, Alexandre Gaydamak. The Pompey manager is more concerned with how to keep weary legs fresh to get to the end of the festive schedule.

"There are problems this weekend with playing Saturday and then again on Monday," he said. "At the back, Sol Campbell and Linvoy Primus - can they both play in both games? If one plays on Saturday, then I do not want to lose them for Monday."

Redknapp recalled: "At the start of the season, we went up to Middlesbrough for a Monday night match and won 4-0 live on Sky. We got back to the airport and Kanu sat down near the luggage belt, and genuinely could not get up. We had to lift him into a wheelchair and wheel him out of the airport. He had seized up, his body had just gone.

"So if you are going to play him on Saturday and then again on Monday, well anything could happen. That is the problem. Can these guys do four games? It is going to be difficult."

Redknapp feels that when Kanu, Benjani Mwaruwari, Lomana LuaLua, who has a thigh problem, and Andy Cole are all fully fit, he will have plenty of attacking options.

"On Saturday against Sheffield United, I played Benjani up front with Kanu, even though he had a dodgy hamstring," he said. "Then the physio told me that if he plays against West Ham and it does go, then he will not play again for six to eight weeks. So I could not take the chance with him.

"Andy Cole has been out for about five weeks with an Achilles injury and has not played a full game. So we are short, but if I can keep all four of my strikers fit, then I am happy enough."

Redknapp has yet to discover what, if any, funds will be made available next month. He does, however, believe the current squad have what it takes to push for a European place.

"I have not really spoken to the owner about it and do not have a player in mind," he said. "If the owner says to me, 'You have £4m to spend', then I will have a look and see where we can strengthen. If we do not do anything, then we will just crack on as we are, keep going and see where it takes us.

Redknapp added: "People said I invested heavily in the transfer market last year - well, I took three players from Tottenham's reserves who could not get a game. Noe Pamarot, Pedro Mendes and Sean Davies have all done great for me, but none of them were anywhere near getting in the Spurs team at the time.

"Then in the summer we picked up people like Kanu, Glen Johnson, who was a loan signing, Sol Campbell on a free and also David James - we did not exactly go crazy."

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