Tottenham will be without flying winger Gareth Bale for their first leg Champions League tie against AC Milan at the San Siro, and a host of other injuries and suspensions means the English team will field a scratch side on Tuesday night. The Welshman has not recovered from a back injury in time to face the Italian giants, which will be a blow to the London club’s preparations.
Bale will be massively disappointed not to feature at the San Siro, a ground where he captured the attention of the World’s media with a sensational hat-trick against AC’s rivals Inter Milan in the group stages earlier in the season. Manager Harry Redknapp will wish he could call on his star player, and confirmed his absence as he told Sky Sports News : “I’d like to be able to scare Milan and say he’s going to be available, but he’s not”.
Tottenham will also be without long term absentees Tom Huddlestone, Younes Kaboul, club captain Ledley King and Jermaine Jenas, who is suspended. Peter Crouch (back) and Luka Modric (appendicitis) will also face late fitness tests, with Crouch more likely to feature than the talented midfield man Modric. Good news for the visitors is the return of Dutch forward Rafael van der Vaart, who will return to the starting line-up. Bale’s absence will give a chance to on form Croatian playmaker Niko Kranjcar, who is fresh from scoring spectacular winners against Bolton and Sunderland in the London club’s last two league games. Brazilian Sandro will most likely start along side Wilson Palacios in centre midfield.
The Rosseneri also have injury concerns ahead of the game and will be without Italy international midfield duo Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini, whilst January signings Mark van Bommel, Urby Emmanuelson and Antonio Cassano are all ineligible. The Serie A leaders will most likely start with an impressive front three of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato and Robinho.
In the biggest game of the season for Tottenham, injuries will mean that the London club cannot put out their full strength team, but the visitors should go into the game with no fear and high confidence after three good league victories. If they are to have a chance of proceeding through the tie they will need to limit supply to Pato and Robinho, who have the ability to turn Champions League dreams into nightmares, and a strong start is needed for Tottenham to stand a chance of taking the tie back to White Hart Lane in a couple of weeks time with all to play for.
Probable Starting Tottenham XI (4-4-1-1) : Gomes, Assou Ekotto, Dawson, Gallas, Hutton, Kranjcar, Sandro, Palacios, Lennon, Van der Vaart, Crouch

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