Tottenham aim for team with 'English core'

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The Independent Online

Tottenham Hotspur's sporting director, Damien Comolli, has claimed the club will never follow Arsenal's foreign policy. The Gunners have been criticised in the past for fielding teams containing no British players under Arsène Wenger, but Comolli has told Spurs fans that the head coach, Martin Jol, has no plans to move in the same direction.

Tottenham looked to have given up on their policy of signing young British players when they brought the Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov, plus left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Pascal Chimbonda to the club in the summer.

But Comolli says the approach to signings is now a matter of quality over quantity as Spurs prepare for their Uefa Cup group clash with Club Bruges at White Hart Lane tomorrow night.

Comolli said: "We will never do what Arsenal have done. When I discussed with the board last year about coming they told me that the club's philosophy was built on English players and I agreed with them.

"What we have been trying to do has not changed. We always try to sign British players, the second option is foreign players within the Premiership and the third is looking abroad. But we won't say we won't buy someone because they are foreign as we need to bring in quality players.

"Martin is right about having an English core. We lost only Michael Carrick in the summer [to Manchester United] but Tom Huddlestone is getting more involved this year as a result. Our policy now is to sign the right players. We are looking for top quality so the quantity will be less."

Tottenham's fans remain baffled by the club's failure to buy a left-winger once their bid for Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing was rejected in the summer. But Comolli is adamant that it has not affected their season and says it is not something the fans should worry about.

Comolli said: "They have wondered why we haven't signed a left-winger but they are difficult to find. Of the teams who reached the last 16 of the World Cup there was only one left-winger. It is not something we should concentrate on. We have enough quality to compensate. It's not so much of a problem and they should not worry."

Meanwhile, the Ivory Coast midfielder Didier Zokora is back in full training after missing four games with a mild case of malaria. Zokora was admitted to hospital after contracting the disease and missed the 2-0 Uefa Cup win over Besiktas, the 1-0 Premiership victory over West Ham, the 0-0 draw at the weekend with Watford and the 5-0 Carling Cup demolition of Milton Keynes Dons last week.

Zokora is now over the worst and the player said: "I am very good now and want to play soon. I don't like missing games because football is my passion and I am back training with the group, no problem."

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