Ziege hopes to continue comeback from horrific injury

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The Independent Online

Christian Ziege will be hoping to start only his second first team match in 13 months when Manchester City visit White Hart Lane for tonight's FA Cup fourth round replay.

Christian Ziege will be hoping to start only his second first team match in 13 months when Manchester City visit White Hart Lane for tonight's FA Cup fourth round replay.

The German defender came through his first game following a horrific thigh injury when he played in Tottenham's 2-1 defeat at Fulham on Saturday. His contract is up for renewal this summer, so Ziege knows he has just a few months in which to re-establish himself in the team if he hopes to remain at Spurs next season.

"I was happy to be back on the pitch, it is good for me personally to be back," he said. "I think it was a difficult game to come back - the conditions weren't that nice. I think I did well to get through 90 minutes, I tried to get everything out of my tank and work hard. My match fitness is still 10 or 15 per cent away, but I felt alright."

Ziege was first injured on Boxing Day 2002, returning for 20 minutes of Spurs' final game of last season against Blackburn. He again experienced problems with his thigh in pre-season, and then suffered a knee injury in his next comeback match against West Ham at the end of October.

David Pleat, Spurs' acting manager, said: "Christian did well to stand up so well really. He got through the game at Fulham and I am delighted for him as it wasn't easy."

Pleat has also given a vote of confidence to the out-of-form striker Helder Postiga, who is soon likely to lose his place after yesterday's arrival of Jermain Defoe. Postiga retains the shirt against City as Defoe is not registered to play, but the Portuguese international - who has scored just one Premiership goal since arriving in the summer - could be on the bench for Saturday's visit of Portsmouth.

"Helder did some very good things at Fulham and like all strikers he needed a goal," Pleat said. "I thought he delayed with a couple of opportunities he had in the first period, but he did some good things as well in the game.

"He is in his first year here and he is 20 years old - someone of that age who can stand up in the Premiership is on the right tracks. Like Newcastle's [Hugo] Viana and [Cristiano] Ronaldo at Manchester United, these boys need time to settle, get into the pace of the game and get to know the opponents they come up against."

Gus Poyet returns to today's squad after completing a three-match suspension, Darren Anderton is ruled out by injury and Mauricio Taricco is hoping to recover from a bruised foot.

Sunday's defeat at the hands of Arsenal was Manchester City's 12th Premiership outing without a victory and another loss to Tottenham tonight would end any chance of landing some silverware to match manager Kevin Keegan's near-£55m outlay.

Nicolas Anelka, who is appealing against his dismissal at Arsenal at the weekend, is available tonight, but City will have to make at least one change to their starting line-up. With David James cup-tied, the Icelandic keeper Arni Arason is set to make his City debut three weeks after his arrival on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

The new City arrival Daniel van Buyten was not registered in time to play, so striker Robbie Fowler's return for Shaun Wright-Phillips is the only likely alteration to Keegan's starting line-up.

"We were beaten by a very good side on Sunday but if we put in a performance like that tomorrow, we are capable of getting the result we want," Keegan said.

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