Redknapp left with only one fit striker after Pavlyuchenko blow

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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp fears he could be down to one fit striker for Tottenham's league game against Blackburn on Saturday after Roman Pavlyuchenko suffered a back injury in Tuesday night's 1-1 draw with Sunderland.

Pavlyuchenko was forced off at half-time and was replaced by Peter Crouch, who had been left out by Redknapp. But England striker Crouch could find himself starting out of necessity this weekend if Pavlyuchenko fails to recover and Robbie Keane is unable to return from an ankle problem.

A scan on Monday showed Keane had picked up slight ligament damage. "I could do with Robbie if Pavlyuchenko's got a bad back," Redknapp said. "It leaves me with only Crouchy. I've got no one else I can push up front, really, even [Aaron] Lennon, who could play through the middle at a pinch [but is injured]."

Redknapp felt Spurs missed the pace of Lennon and Jermain Defoe on Tuesday night, with Gareth Bale his only real speed merchant. "You're relying on Bale; Bale's the only one who's got real pace," said Redknapp of the winger, who saw Nedum Onuoha become the latest player to limit his impact.

"Their right-back was as quick as Gareth. The two centre-halves headed balls away; I think [Titus] Bramble's an underrated player myself. Defoe would have given them problems. [Michael] Turner would have been happy playing against most people. Defoe's little and not his type of player."

Redknapp has injury worries in other areas of the squad, too. Midfielder Aaron Lennon, who has missed the last two matches with a hamstring problem, is also likely to miss the visit of Blackburn, while Jamie O'Hara is still not fully recovered from a back complaint.

Three England centre-backs are also unavailable, with Jonathan Woodgate, Ledley King and Michael Dawson all sidelined. Woodgate has not featured since last November due to a continuing groin injury, while Ledley King has missed three weeks with the same injury.

Michael Dawson has been out since early September after sustaining knee ligament damage on England duty while William Gallas has been forced to play through the pain of a calf injury

Lennon was a mere spectator on Tuesday night as Rafael van der Vaart kept up his remarkable record of scoring in every one of his home games since joining Spurs on transfer deadline day.

But a horrible mix-up between Gallas and Younes Kaboul gifted Asamoah Gyan an equaliser just three minutes later to leave Spurs four points adrift of the top four.

Tuesday night's game was not without its flashpoints, the first coming when Howard Webb booked David Bentley for diving in the penalty box and the second when he only gave Lee Cattermole a yellow card for a studs-first challenge on Luka Modric. Redknapp and opposite number Steve Bruce understandably had opposing views on both incidents.

The result left Spurs level on points and goal difference with Sunderland, who have bounced back brilliantly from their Tyne-Wear derby humiliation at the hands of Newcastle.

"In some people's eyes, they'll never forgive," said Bruce, who made six changes on Tuesday. "It's difficult; that's why I made so many changes. But you want a response as a manager; thankfully, they responded very, very well. I couldn't have asked for anything better: four points out of six."

The one bit of bad news for Bruce was that it looks like Anton Ferdinand will be spending up to three weeks out with a hamstring problem. The defender limped off after 18 minutes.

Bruce added: "We made hard work of it in the first half. Let's not take anything away from Tottenham, they're a very, very good team. The one thing we tried to do in the first half was stop their midfield dominance. To be fair, it didn't work, so we changed it second half."

Bruce hailed goalkeeper Craig Gordon, playing his first match of the season and centre-halves Bramble and Turner. He also singled out Onuoha, who frustrated Bale throughout the game. "Nobody will run away from Onuoha, he does the 100 metres in just over 10 seconds," he said.

Bruce added of the Bentley incident: "I haven't seen it on any TV. Howard Webb was right there."

Bruce also pointed to decisions he felt that went against Sunderland, arguing Van der Vaart had handled the ball for his goal and that Heurelho Gomes might have been sent off for tripping Steed Malbranque. "He was the last man, wasn't he?"