Redknapp hails Pavlyuchenko


LONDON, February 25 – Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp backed his in-form striker Roman Pavlyuchenko to fire his team towards Wembley after the Russian's two goals helped them cruise into the FA Cup quarter-finals.The former Spartak Moscow attacker, who was out of favour and the centre of transfer speculation during the January transfer window, also netted a double in last Sunday’s win at Wigan, giving Redknapp pause for thought.

"He’s in great form," said Redknapp after the 4-0 rout of Bolton at White Hart Lane on Wednesday.

"Last week he trained hard and worked hard and looked very good. He looked like he wanted a go and when people work in training it rubs off on Saturday," he added.

The former Southampton boss expects the international star to start in Sunday’s crucial league game with Everton as Spurs look to strengthen their grip on a Champions League spot.

"There’s every chance he will start Sunday. He’s a quality finisher and his confidence should be high. Only he can get himself out of the team at the moment," said Redknapp, who guided Portsmouth to the 2008 FA Cup trophy.

Pavlyuchenko grabbed the first and last goals in Wednesday’s win, adding to two own goals from Wanderers ‘keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and defender Andy O’Brien.

The Lillywhites face a tricky trip to Craven Cottage to play Fulham in the last eight on March 6 but with the Russian forward finally finding his scoring boots, will be hopeful of securing a semi-final berth.

"It will be a tough game," Redknapp predicted. "Roy (Hodgson) has done a fantastic job there, they are a good side who are on a good run. It will be a good tie."

Despite the tough draw, with both Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Arsenal already out of the competition Redknapp will be optimistic about lifting the trophy again, especially if they can avoid Chelsea.

One slight problem facing Spurs in the competition is that Croatia midfielder Niko Kranjcar is cup-tied, meaning they have a relatively inexperienced bench.

A bigger concern for Spurs is the condition of speedy winger Aaron Lennon who has been missing since December with a groin injury.

The former Leeds man – who impressed for England at the 2006 World Cup finals – will be desperate to secure his place in Fabio Capello’s England World Cup squad and will fly off to Europe on Thursday to see a specialist.

"Lennon will see an expert tomorrow (Thursday) and we just hope we get some good news," Redknapp said. "We didn’t get to the bottom of the problem before but he’s desperate to play. We’re all desperate for him."

Opponents Bolton, mindful of their upcoming struggle to retain their Premier League status, offered some early resistance but were eventually blown away.

Wanderers manager Owen Coyle rested star striker Kevin Davies as they look towards Saturday’s vital Premier League relegation battle with Wolverhampton, who sit two places and one point above them in the table.

"I love the FA Cup. It’s the best cup competition in the world bar none and I put out a team I thought could win," The ex-Burnley manager said.

"But Saturday is a massive game and our real cup finals start now. We must make sure we stay in the Premier League."

"Saturday is a great opportunity to get three points but there is work to do. You live and die in both boxes and we’ve not done both well enough. There will be changes as Saturday is vitally important," he added.