Spurs aim to bounce back from Euro mauling

LONDON, April 8, 2011 (AFP) - Tottenham will attempt to shake off their European hangover against Stoke on Saturday knowing that only victory will do if they are to secure another season of Champions League football.

The Londoners' fairytale European campaign ran into a brick wall against Real Madrid this week, Spurs crashing 4-0 at the Bernabeu in a result that all but guarantees their elimination at the quarter-final stage.

Barring a miraculous comeback in next Wednesday's second leg, Spurs must now turn their attention to the Premier League race for fourth place if they are to return to the Champions League next season.

As it stands, Tottenham are in fifth place in the table, five points adrift of Chelsea and with both London clubs having eight games remaining. Manchester City, in third, are a point ahead of Chelsea and have played a game more.

William Gallas, Tottenham's France international defender, stressed the importance of putting the Madrid setback, which also included the early dismissal of striker Peter Crouch, behind them as soon as possible.

"It was a bad night but we have to be strong in our heads," he said. "We have to play against Stoke in the Premier League on Saturday and that game is very important.

"We have to try to win that game and try to qualify for the Champions League again next season. We have to try to win every game."

Injuries to other defenders means it is unlikely Gallas will be able to sit out the visit of the Potters, who are in eleventh place and are renowned as being one of the most uncompromising and physical sides in the top flight.

Manager Harry Redknapp has concerns in other positions too, not least over winger Aaron Lennon, whose name had to be removed from the team-sheet just minutes before the Madrid game because of illness.

The England international was accused by a section of the Tottenham support of lacking mental toughness ahead of the biggest game of the season but Redknapp made it clear he did not blame the 23-year-old, who may be passed fit to face Stoke.

"Lennon did nothing wrong," Redknapp said. "He was desperate to play. We asked him if he felt able to play and he said he had no strength or energy and couldn't be sure he would last five minutes, so after that I just couldn't take the chance."

Stoke winger Jermaine Pennant admitted he was unsure how the Madrid setback would affect Tottenham but argued that the Potters' 1-1 draw against Chelsea last week was proof Tony Pulis' side could compete with the best.

"I don't know if the result against Real Madrid was a good or bad thing for us because we could feel a backlash on Saturday," the former Arsenal man said. "Losing in the manner they did, they may want to go out and prove something to their fans against us.

"And they remain a great team - that's why they were in the last eight of the Champions' League in the first place - but we will have our game plan, and we proved against Chelsea last week that we are as good as anyone at the Britannia. Now we just have to take that Britannia form in to our away games."

Stoke will be without defender Danny Higginbotham, who will miss at least the next six months with a cruciate ligament injury, but Norway striker John Carew is expected to be on the bench after a month out with back problem as the Potters gear up for an FA Cup semi-final with Bolton Wanderers later in the month.

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