Van der Vaart plays down substitution row with Redknapp

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The Independent Football

Rafael van der Vaart has said that he wants to be substituted less often by the Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. The Dutch midfielder walked straight down the tunnel after being withdrawn in last Saturday's match against West Ham United. His conduct drew criticism from Redknapp but Van der Vaart said that while he did not agree with his manager's decision, he was confident that the disagreement will have "blown over" by next week.

"I read that Harry Redknapp wanted to talk with me, but I did not see him before I left for Holland," Van der Vaart told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. Redknapp had said of Van der Vaart's return to the dressing room that "if you are part of a team you should stay to watch the rest of the game." The former Real Madrid midfielder, however, disputed both his manager's criticism and his repeated substitutions.

"But at Tottenham they cannot be angry with me," he said. "I also did the same thing against AC Milan. I played well, and did not find the substitution necessary. Often I like to play 90 minutes, but at Spurs that hardly ever happens. I won't be back for 10 days, by then a lot of it will have blown over."

Van der Vaart will likely play for the Netherlands in the two up-coming Euro 2012 qualifiers against Hungary. So too will Robin van Persie, and the forward believes that Arsenal's recent cup exits will increase their chances of winning the league.

"We are five points behind Manchester United but have a game in hand, so we can narrow the gap to two points," Van Persie said. "It is actually an advantage that we are no longer active in other competitions, so we won't get distracted. We still have everything in our own hands and will do our utmost to win the league title, even though we have been dealt a few big blows in recent weeks."

The Scotland defender Phil Bardsley has withdrawn from Sunday's friendly against Brazil with a knee injury. The full-back sustained the injury playing for Sunderland against Liverpool last Sunday. In contrast, the West Brom midfielder James Morrison has ignored the instructions of his club's medical staff to pull out and will be available to play. The 24-year-old required 10 stitches to a three-inch gash to his head which was inflicted during West Brom's 2-2 draw with Arsenal on Saturday.

"The doctor tried to stop me going," revealed Morrison, "but I said nothing is going to stop me having the chance to play against Brazil. I'm really looking forward to this game. You don't often get the chance to play Brazil and test yourself. It's the kind of match you dreamed about playing as a kid."