BEIJING, July 27 – London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United headline the Barclays Asia Trophy in Beijing this week as they ramp up preparations for the new season.Phil Brown’s Hull City and Chinese Super League stalwarts Beijing Guoan are the other two teams contesting the biennial event.
West Ham play Spurs on Wednesday with Hull against Beijing on the same day, with the winners and losers facing off on Friday, all at the Workers Stadium.
Spurs coach Harry Redknapp knows all about the tournament, lifting the trophy two years ago in Hong Kong when he was in charge of Portsmouth.
"I really enjoyed the last time I was involved in this competition with Portsmouth two years ago," said the manager, who saw his side out-played by Barcelona and Celtic in the Wembley Cup in England at the weekend.
"It was a great few days in terms of preparation for the new Barclays Premier League season and I was really impressed with everything — it was a terrific competition."
Redknapp, who is in talks to sign Peter Crouch from Portsmouth and Inter Milan’s Patrick Vieira, is set to show off highly rated former Sheffield United defenders Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker, who moved to Spurs last week.
He may have to throw them straight into the action with England defender Jonathan Woodgate set to miss the start of the season with a groin strain.
His injury is a major headache for Spurs with centre-back Ledley King still not training due to a recurring knee injury, while fellow defender Michael Dawson has a damaged Achilles.
"All three central defenders are struggling for the start of the season in all honesty so it is not an ideal situation," admitted Redknapp.
Robbie Keane is also carrying a groin injury and may be rested, leaving Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe to spearhead the front line.
Gianfranco Zola, who last week snapped up teenage striker Frank Nouble from Chelsea, is on his second visit to China in a year after having been a coach of the Italian national team that played in the Beijing Olympics.
"The Chinese people love football," the West Ham manager and former Chelsea star said.
"This pre-season, and the matches we are going to play in China, are going to be very important for us because it will allow us to prepare for the new season in the right way.
"The young players will gain more experience and it is going to help us be stronger and improve on what we have achieved so far."
The Hammers finished a creditable ninth last season while Redknapp guided Spurs to eighth.
After a solid start, Hull slipped to 17th and Brown knows the Beijing trip will be a real test ahead of their tough opening game of the new campaign next month against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
"I just want the players to go out there and express themselves," he said.
"We’re challenging for a trophy in a different country and that is testimony to how diverse the last two or three years have been for Hull City.
"The fact that there are two teams there who can boast a higher Premier League finish than us will be a test, as I’m sure will also be provided by Beijing Guoan, who are having an excellent season."
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur (1100 GMT)
Hull City v Beijing Guoan (1330 GMT)
Third-place playoff (1100 GMT)
Final (1330 GMT)