Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe returns for derby

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The Independent Football

Jermain Defoe returns to Tottenham's squad for tomorrow's north London derby clash with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

The England striker has been sidelined for just over two months following surgery on damaged ankle ligaments.

Defoe returned to training almost a month ahead of schedule and is available to face the Gunners.

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp said: "It's great to have him back.

"He's a fantastic goalscorer and he's different to anybody else.

"He certainly would've had six or seven goals by this stage of the season."

Tottenham have struggled for goals in Defoe's absence but Redknapp added: "The other lads - whoever's played - have done well.

"We've been lucky we've got good strikers."

There was mixed news on Redknapp's defensive injury woes, with Michael Dawson (ligament damage) set to take part in ball work for the first time today but Ledley King still struggling with a groin problem.

The injury-blighted Jonathan Woodgate was making progress from his nightmare groin injury.

Redknapp said: "He's got to go through a 'pre-season' next week, if you like, a month of real intensive, hard work.

"If he can come through that okay then there's real light at the end of the tunnel for him, which would be great."

Spurs' recent injury crisis failed to result in midfielder Niko Kranjcar getting the game time he craves.

The Croatia midfielder this week repeated his threat to quit the club if he continues to be frozen out.

Describing the 26-year-old as "fantastic" and "unlucky" that Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart were playing so well, Redknapp today declared he would not stand in Kranjcar's way if he wanted to leave in January.

He said: "We're not going to gift Niko away; he's a top player in my opinion.

"Let's see how things go in the next month with him."

He added: "I really wouldn't want to lose him, but I do understand where he's coming from as well.

"He needs to play; he's a top-class player. He's gone away and scored five goals for Croatia in the last three games.

"Hopefully, he'll get his chance sooner rather than later."