Belfast Telegraph

Champions League: Jermain Defoe to play through pain as Tottenham Hotspur face Young Boys

By Mark Fleming

Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe is due to undergo surgery on a groin injury next week and has "no chance" of playing in England's Euro 2012 qualifying matches against Bulgaria and Switzerland next month according to Harry Redknapp.

The Spurs boss added that he would play "60 minutes" at most tonight as the London club aim to turn around a 3-2 deficit from the Champions League play-off first leg against Swiss club Young Boys of Bern.

Defoe, 27, has an appointment with a specialist on Monday, and the club's medical staff say he is 90 per cent certain to need an operation the next day, ruling him out of the games against Bulgaria at Wembley on 3 September and Switzerland in Basle four days later.

The timing of the procedure is sure to further strain the rocky relationship between the England manager Fabio Capello and Redknapp, who have clashed publicly on numerous occasions.

Redknapp yesterday insisted the operation is necessary as Defoe is unable to train fully, and that the first apointment with the specialist is next week. "He [Defoe] will be out for a couple of weeks," Redknapp said. "He won't be fit for England, no chance. He was supposed to have it on Thursday, but the specialist who would have done it can't do it until after the weekend which is a blow for us, but he has got to have it done. He's hardly been training, and it's getting worse all the time."

Defoe aggravated the injury in last week's 3-2 loss. Redknapp rested him for last weekend's 2-1 win over Stoke and says he will not last more than an hour in tonight's second leg against Young Boys at White Hart Lane.

"60 minutes is about as long as he can last. He wants to play and train but he has to have it done now, he can't go on like that," Redknapp said. He admitted the priority was to ensure that Defoe would be fit for the Champions League should Tottenham progress tonight. "It is getting worse each time, the pain. I'm not sure if he will start."

"I've had it for a few months," Defoe said. "The manager knows what I'm like. If I can I'll always be out there training. I've worked with the physios to try to strengthen it and get myself out there to try to help the team. If it means coming off after 60 minutes then so be it.

"I might need an op but the lucky thing is it's a straightforward op. I'll only be out for seven days. Alan Hutton had the same thing and so did Didier Drogba. The problem would go completely and I'd only miss seven days of training."

Defoe, who has 12 goals from 43 England caps, said he has been playing through injury since the World Cup finals in June. It ruled him out of the recent friendly with Hungary, when Capello gave a full debut to Bobby Zamora, but Defoe still features strongly in Capello's plans for the future.

Defoe's forced withdrawal would add to controversies surrounding the England squad announcement, as speculation that Capello could select Everton's Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta refuses to die down. Arteta has been resident in England for five years and would qualify through dual nationality, having not played for Spain's senior side.

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