Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas not afraid to use Gareth Bale against Manchester City

The forward is returning from injury

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas insists he has no qualms about throwing Gareth Bale in to his team for Sunday's huge clash with Manchester City.

Bale has been out of action since Basle's David Degen stood on his right ankle 15 days ago, causing ligament damage.

The fact that his ankle was bent almost at a right angle to his leg raised fears that the 23-year-old star would not play again this season.

An initial diagnosis of three weeks on the sidelines seemed optimistic at the time, but Bale has been training with the Spurs squad for the last two days and the in-form forward now looks set to be fit for this weekend's game at White Hart Lane.

"I am pretty confident (Bale will be fit)," the Spurs boss said.

"He's made good progress from the beginning of the week to be training with the team so I think he will definitely up for selection."

Bale has scored 27 goals for club and country this term, earning him a place on the PFA Player of the Year shortlist, which was announced today.

The Welshman was hindered by injury for part of last season, and also missed part of this campaign with a hamstring complaint, but the Portuguese denied recalling the player so soon would cause more damage to Bale's ankle.

"No I don't think so," the 35-year-old said.

Villas-Boas reported further good news from the treatment room regarding Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe.

Lennon also limped out of the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final defeat to Basle with a knee injury and Defoe has missed the last two games with a pelvis complaint.

But Villas-Boas was optimistic about their chances of playing on Sunday against the reigning Premier League champions.

"There has been a good recovery from Defoe so he's trained with the team all week," said Villas-Boas, who is without Sandro, Younes Kaboul and William Gallas for Sunday's game.

"Lennon has been recovering progressively.

"He hasn't trained with the team yet so there is one more training session to go. All of them are in with a chance of making the selection."

The return of Tottenham's three most lethal players after a 10-day break for the squad could not have come at a better time for Villas-Boas, whose team dropped out of the top four last weekend after Arsenal's win over Norwich.

Spurs, who also have to face Chelsea before the end of the season, could find themselves five points behind their north London rivals if they lose against City and the Gunners beat Fulham tomorrow.

Spurs led Arsenal by seven points in March, but after a recent run of one win in four league games, Villas-Boas concedes his team have lost the advantage in the race for Champions League qualification, even though they do have the bonus of a match in hand over their rivals.

When asked whether Arsenal were now the favourites to clinch Champions League football, Villas-Boas replied: "Yes, but we also have everything in our hands with this game in favour.

"We have had one game more during the last two or three months. Now it is up to us to do our job with the game in hand we have against Chelsea.

"Arsenal have probably the easiest run-in, although they play Manchester United at home.

"We lost some points recently which have put us back into a position we were in before but still everything depends on us because of this game in hand we have against Chelsea.

"But I think it is a great, great spectacle for the Premier League and hopefully we can be there in the fight."

Spurs crumbled to a 5-1 defeat in the corresponding fixture last year, but Villas-Boas has managed to spur his team on to good performances against the big teams this year, and he thinks that could work to his advantage this weekend.

"Sometimes in football you need these moments of pressure and tension to excel and maybe that can be a decisive factor for us," Villas-Boas said.

PA

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