West Ham clash is biggest game of my career, says Jol

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Tottenham coach Martin Jol admits tomorrow's crucial game at West Ham is the most important of his managerial career so far as he bids to steer the club into the Champions' League.

Spurs need to beat West Ham to ensure they finish fourth in the Premiership and then hope Arsenal fail to beat Barcelona in the Champions' League final in Paris. But Jol may have to do it the hard way tomorrow with his side crippled by injuries.

Striker and stand-in captain Robbie Keane is extremely doubtful after twisting his ankle against Bolton while Jermaine Jenas (shin) and Paul Stalteri (knee) are definitely out. England midfielder Michael Carrick (calf) and Egyptian striker Mido (knee) will also undergo late fitness tests.

Jol may be forced to pair former West Ham striker Jermain Defoe with rookie reserve Lee Barnard as Spurs attempt to finish ahead of Arsenal who play Wigan in their final league match at Highbury.

Jol said: "It is probably the biggest game of my managerial career so far. If we win this game then we are fourth but you realise it doesn't mean anything nowadays because we have to wait for another step - the Champions' League final. We will give it a real go against West Ham. We intend to give everything and a bit more to make everyone at this club and the supporters happy."

Jol added: "If you would have said at the start of the season that you would fight off Arsenal in the last match of the season, it would have been unbelievable."

Defoe will be returning to Upton Park for the first time in the league since leaving West Ham under difficult circumstances for White Hart Lane. But Jol believes the England striker can handle the expected reception from the fans who used to idolise him.

Jol said: "He is big enough to take it. I think Michael Carrick will have the same to be honest."

Jol also said that he has told Manchester United they are wasting their time trying to prise Carrick away from White Hart Lane.

West Ham manager Alan Pardew said Spurs will not be given an easy ride, despite the Hammers suffering a major injury blow a week before the FA Cup final. Winger Matthew Etherington was taken to hospital for an X-ray after rolling his ankle in training and Pardew rates him "really doubtful" for next Saturday's final against Liverpool.

West Ham have already lost influential midfielder Hayden Mullins to suspension while £7.25m striker Dean Ashton will spend the week undergoing treatment in an oxygen tent as he battles to overcome a hamstring injury.

But Pardew is determined to stay bold. He will name a full-strength side and challenged West Ham to end an impressive league campaign with a "full-blooded" performance against Spurs - just the news Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger wanted to hear.

Pardew said: "There is concern about people not putting everything into the game with the Cup final so close, but my view on it is that we have to be professional."

That must have spurred on Wenger, who added: "I always feel if you want to win the final, your interest is to play well in the game before. I do not see any reason why West Ham should not play - it is in their interest to play."

Comments