Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas may start Sandro against Newcastle


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The Independent Football

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas is considering starting Sandro against Newcastle tomorrow despite having only seen the Brazilian in training for the first time yesterday.

Five months after being sacked by Chelsea, Villas-Boas makes his return to the Barclays Premier League tomorrow when he takes Spurs to Newcastle.

While Villas-Boas has been trying to stamp his new brand of football on Spurs, Sandro has spent almost the entire summer in a Brazil shirt.

The midfielder turned out five times for his country in the Olympics and then flew immediately to Stockholm to play as a substitute for the national team against Sweden this week.

Other than a brief meeting at Brazil's Olympic base in Hertfordshire, Villas-Boas had not met Sandro until yesterday's training session at Spurs Lodge, but the Portuguese rates the midfielder so highly that he is considering starting him at St James' Park tomorrow evening.

"Sandro arrived back on Thursday, but he's in contention for Saturday," Villas-Boas said.

"He had a rest when the season was over and he only played two minutes for Brazil so you could say he is fresh.

"He has had the best training possible in terms of playing time so you can say that he is one step ahead in terms of physical preparation."

If he starts, Sandro will partner either Jermaine Jenas or Jake Livermore just in front of the back four while Villas-Boas could field Tom Huddlestone or Gylfi Sigurdsson further up the field in place of Real Madrid-bound Luka Modric.

Modric was today edging closer to his £30million plus move to the Bernabeu. The Croatian did not turn up at the club's training ground yesterday after the international break and he is expected to visit the Spanish capital for a medical some time this weekend.

Villas-Boas yesterday admitted he would like Modric's exit to be resolved soon so he can spend the transfer funds on a replacement, and a striker.

The 34-year-old insists preparations for the season have done well without the star playmaker, however, and he is confident that Tottenham will be able to have a better start to the campaign than last year when they were thrashed in their opening two games.

"Last year we started poorly but finished greatly and obviously we want to make a good start to this season, that will be our focus," Villas-Boas said.

"We had a good pre-season, the spirit is good and the motivation is high."

Villas-Boas was a surprise choice in many people's eyes to take over from Harry Redknapp, who did not finish lower than fifth during his three full seasons at White Hart Lane.

The Portuguese alienated parts of the Stamford Bridge dressing room after setting about making drastic changes, but he has been given another chance to prove himself in the Barclays Premier League - something which he is thankful for.

"The option came and I am very grateful to be back at this level in the Premier League and I am very excited," Villas-Boas added.

Villas-Boas, who has brought in an almost entirely different backroom staff, is expecting a stern test from Newcastle tomorrow evening.

The north-east side were one of the surprise packages of last term and only missed out on Champions League qualification on the final day of the season.

"It is one of the hardest trips you can make in the Premier League, Newcastle away," Villas-Boas said.

"Both teams had a good season last year and that means it will be an exciting and entertaining game.

"It will be very difficult but we have our ambitions and strengths, which we will look to use.

"It's different for us this year. It's a new start under a new management team, but we want to build on last year.

"It will be a match fully charged with emotion but we have to be solid and stable. If we do that we can take something from the match."