Harry Redknapp has been delighted with the start that Emmanuel Adebayor has made to his Tottenham career and has backed the striker to fire the club back in to the Champions League.
Adebayor will lead the line for Spurs for the third time this weekend having already exceeded expectations by scoring three times since signing on a season-long loan from Manchester City.
The Togo striker scored on his debut at Wolves a fortnight ago and followed that up by bagging a well-taken brace against top-four rivals Liverpool last weekend.
To Redknapp’s delight, the 27-year-old has formed a strong partnership with Jermain Defoe, which has seen the England striker score three times and look a completely different player to the one that notched just four league goals last term.
Defoe’s poor league form, and that of team-mates Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch, was one of the main reasons why Spurs fell just short in their bid to qualify for the Champions League last year.
The north London club scored 55 league goals last season – 17 less than Arsenal – but Redknapp is now sure that, in Adebayor, he has found a marksman capable of scoring the goals to put Spurs back among Europe’s elite next term.
“He couldn’t have had a better start for us,” Redknapp said.
“If he has a great season he can take us to where we want to be.
“He is a really good player. There is no doubting his ability and Jermain Defoe has linked up well with him.
“He is full of enthusiasm. He trains, runs around like he is enjoying himself. He is full of the joys of spring.
“He always wants to get the ball and the lads have enjoyed having him. He could be a great player for us this year.”
For Redknapp, perhaps the biggest joy associated with Adebayor’s arrival has been his partnership with Defoe.
Redknapp is quick to point out that Adebayor is not the only reason why Defoe has found form again, pointing to some hard work that 28-year-old undertook with French trainer Tiberius Darau as another important factor.
“I am a big fan of his but last year he had a stop-start season,” Redknapp added.
“In the summer he went to France to work with a fitness coach and spent a large part of the summer working with this guy one on one doing three sessions a day – one early in the morning, one in the afternoon and another in the evening.
“He came back stronger and fitter and he feels in great, sharp form.
“He is now looking stronger and he is looking like the player who I signed as a 15-year-old.”
Rafael van der Vaart will start on Saturday after coming through Tuesday’s defeat at Stoke, but is likely to play on the wing given Adebayor and Defoe’s form, and Aaron Lennon’s failure to overcome a groin problem.
After seeing his injury-ravaged squad torn to pieces by both Manchester sides at the start of the campaign, Redknapp’s squad is starting to get near full strength once more.
Sandro is available after recovering from a knee injury, William Gallas will be fit next week and Lennon has returned to training but is unlikely to be risked on Saturday.
Gallas’ return gives Redknapp a selection headache at the back given the form of Younes Kaboul and Ledley King – a player the Spurs boss described as the most astounding he has ever managed on Friday.
“He is the most amazing player I’ve ever seen,” said Redknapp of King, who rarely trains due to chronic knee problems.
“To come out and play like he does without doing much training is amazing.
“If everything goes well, he’ll play at Wigan tomorrow. We have a lot of strong players in defensive positions.
“Kaboul wasn’t at his best in the first two games but he has suddenly hit form and he has been magnificent for us.”
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