Van der Vaart fitness causes concern for Redknapp

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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, has admitted that midfielder Rafael van der Vaart needs to get in shape so he can last the full 90 minutes.

The £8m Tottenham spent recruiting the Dutchman from Real Madrid on the final day of the summer transfer window looks a bargain. Van der Vaart has scored seven times in 11 games, and has also forced Redknapp to alter his tactics. Tottenham were very much a 4-4-2 outfit last season as they claimed fourth place in the Premier League, but the arrival of Van der Vaart, along with an injury to Jermain Defoe, has seen Redknapp change tack and adopt a 4-4-1-1 formation, with the new man playing in the hole behind a lone striker, who more often than not has been Peter Crouch.

Redknapp however is growing concerned that the Dutchman is not fully fit. The Tottenham manager said: "I think he runs out of steam, still. He's got to get fitter and adapt to playing 90 minutes in the Premier League. He's a fantastic player but I think he does just run out of steam a little bit at the moment, still."

Tottenham are in a batch of six teams on 16 points, a point ahead of tomorrow's visitors Blackburn Rovers. The defender Alan Hutton described the visit of Blackburn as a "must-win" game, after a run that has seen Tottenham pick up just two points from a possible 12 in the League. "It will be a massive game for us at the weekend," Hutton said. "I would say we have to win."