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English Premiership

'Pav' causes selection headache

LONDON, February 23 – High-flying Tottenham are hoping Russia striker Roman Pavlyuchenko can bring his recent league goal-scoring form into the FA Cup when they face Bolton in Wednesday's fifth-round replay.The former Spartak Moscow forward has been at the centre of speculation regarding his White Hart Lane future, but he responded with two goals in Sunday’s 3-0 win at Wigan, drawing praise from manager Harry Redknapp.

"Technically, he’s a top-class player with great quality and he will always score goals. I said to him ‘go out there and show us what you’ve been doing in training’ and he did that. He was excellent," the Spurs boss said.

The Russian’s return to form gives Redknapp a selection headache with Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Pavlyuchenko and loan signing Eidur Gudjohnsen all vying to fill the forward positions.

"Crouch and Defoe are in good form and Pavlyuchenko is now back in form," Redknapp said.

"Eidur also has an opportunity as he is someone I like. It has given me a nice problem and it is a good position to be in."

England winger Aaron Lennon will definitely miss the game after breaking down in training on Saturday, just as it looked like he had recovered from a troubling groin injury picked up in December.

The latest setback is also bad news for England manager Fabio Capello as the pacey attacker faces a race against time to be fit for this summer’s World Cup in South Africa.

Spurs go into the game as hot favourites against a Bolton team who find themselves in the Premier League relegation zone following Sunday’s dismal 3-0 defeat against Blackburn.

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While the game offers the London team light relief from their push for a Champions League spot, Bolton manager Owen Coyle may see the clash as an unwelcome distraction from the pursuit of league survival.

The first game at the Reebok Stadium last week ended in a 1-1 draw as Defoe clawed Spurs back into the game after Wanderers striker Kevin Davies capped off a dominant first-half display with the opening goal.

Spurs’ abject record of recent penalty conversions continued as Tom Huddlestone wasted the opportunity to advance his team to the quarter-finals at the first attempt.

With Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal already dumped out of the world’s oldest knockout cup competition, Redknapp will fancy his chances of lifting the trophy he won as Portsmouth manager in 2008.

The Spurs coach is also sweating on the fitness of injury-prone captain Ledley King after the England defender limped off against Wigan.

The initial optimism which greeted Coyle’s arrival as Bolton boss has now been replaced by grim realism with Sunday’s capitulation marking a sequence of six games without a win.

Davies issued a rallying cry to his team, urging them to battle their way through the crisis.

"We have to work a little bit harder as a team," the ex-Southampton player said. "In training the boys are very much together, and looking sharp, playing decent football."

"We can’t start looking for excuses, we will keep on working hard and the wins will come."

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