LONDON, March 1 – Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, fears injuries to midfield players could hamper his side's bid to qualify for the Champions League for the first time.The Londoners remain on course to do just that thanks to a 2-1 victory over Everton at White Hart Lane, with Russia striker Roman Pavlyuchenko and Croatia play-maker Luka Modric the men on target.
That lifted them above Manchester City and into fourth place courtesy of a superior goal difference.
Yet the victory was obtained at a cost as Tom Huddlestone was stretchered off early in the second half with a leg injury, with Everton gaining the ascendancy as soon as he departed.
The England international will undergo a scan to ascertain the extent of the damage but Tottenham fear he could be sidelined for a number of weeks. If so, he would join a lengthy injury list.
"Obviously we are going to miss Tom, he’s a top player for us," Redknapp said.
"He makes us play. He’s a great passer and when he went off we couldn’t get Luka (Modric) and Niko Kranjcar on the ball as much as we had.
"We don’t know how bad his injury is but it doesn’t look all that good. We are running out of central midfield players.
We only had three anyway. Jermaine Jenas is having an operation on Wednesday and Wilson Palacios is on nine bookings so it’s not an ideal situation."
Kranjcar is set to remain in the unfamiliar role of right winger after David Bentley joined Aaron Lennon on the sidelines.
"Bentley has a tear in his groin," said Redknapp.
"He did that in the week. Lennon has got to rest for six weeks with his groin problem so we are picking up a few knocks to key players."
Everton manager David Moyes knows all about losing key players to injury as that was the story of the Toffees’ first half of the campaign.
Top scorer Louis Saha was once again sidelined with a combination of hamstring and Achilles problems but at least Mikel Arteta, the midfield play-maker, and Phil Jagielka, the centre-back, featured.
Jagielka, who had made a comeback in the Europa League in midweek, came on at half-time and Moyes was delighted with his contribution.
"Jagielka made a massive difference in the second half," said Moyes.
"On his day he is a really top defender. He’s been out since March last year and has not played a reserve match yet. He had to come on against Sporting Lisbon and played the second half today so we are asking a lot of him.
"The England manager picks that team but he was certainly in their views and if he plays like that he will not be far away from a recall."
Saha had been called up to the France squad for the first time in four years but could still feature in Wednesday’s friendly at home to Spain.
"We haven’t had the results of a scan yet but I’m hoping he will join up with France because you ant all your players to play in the World Cup and Louis’ form has given him that opportunity of being thought about again," said Moyes.
Nigeria international Yakubu pulled a goal back for Everton in the 55th minute but despite intense pressure no-one could add an equaliser.
Substitute Landon Donovan knows he should have done however as the United States international somehow fired wide of an unguarded net.
"I thought he (Donovan) was going to finish it off and it was a big miss in the end," said Moyes.
"He’s disappointed but it happens in football doesn’t it?"