Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Redknapp backs Bale for award

Gareth Bale

Harry Redknapp still believes Gareth Bale deserves to be crowned the PFA player of the year despite the winger's recent injury problems.

Bale grabbed the world's attention when he scored a second-half hat-trick against Inter Milan in Tottenham's 4-3 defeat at the San Siro in October. The winger has also put in some excellent performances in the league, where he has bagged seven goals to supposedly attract the interest of Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Bale suffered a back injury against Newcastle in January which has kept him out of action ever since, but Redkanpp still thinks the Welshman deserves to win the players' vote as the most outstanding performer of the campaign, and said: "I can't think who else should beat him. I think over the season he deserves it, and I'm not saying that because he has played here."

He added: "He has been out for a few weeks but I don't think anyone else could beat him. (Samir) Nasri has had a good season but he has not played so well recently."

Should Bale return to action against AC Milan on Wednesday, his pace and finishing will provide a valuable asset against an ageing Milan defence in the second leg of the last-16 tie.

Peter Crouch's late strike ensured Spurs came away with a 1-0 lead from the first leg, but the victory was overshadowed by the behaviour of Gennaro Gattuso, who headbutted Joe Jordan after the final whistle.

Matthieu Flamini had raised the game's temperature beforehand with a horrific late tackle on Vedran Corluka that left Redknapp fuming, mainly because the Frenchman received only a yellow card for the challenge.

Aside from those two incidents, Redknapp insists the game was played in the right spirit, but has warned his side they must keep their cool if things boil over in the second leg.

"I think we have to make sure that we are ready and that we keep our heads and don't get carried away," Redknapp said. "One or two things happened in the last game. Gattuso, for whatever reason, lost his head but other than the tackle from Flamini there was nothing untoward really.

"I don't think they are a team that has a bad reputation. They have a good reputation in Europe so I cannot see it being a nasty game."