Saturday 18 November 2017

Harry ready for Watford trial says assistant

HARRY REDKNAPP will return to the dugout tonight for the first time since his tax evasion trial began as Tottenham look to avoid an upset in their FA Cup fourth round clash at Watford.

Since Monday, Redknapp has been almost completely cut off from his role as manager as he has been at Southwark Crown Court contesting two charges of cheating the public purse.

The 64-year-old Redknapp, who denies both charges, was expected to stay at the court until around 5pm and then dash across London to Watford, where his team face the Championship side in a 7.45pm kick-off.

Redknapp, who won the competition with Portsmouth in 2008, will select the starting 11 and give the pre-match team talk as usual.

Assistant Kevin Bond, who has been in regular contact with Redknapp throughout the week, thinks the Spurs boss is relishing the prospect of returning to work.

"I was talking to him on Wednesday and he was keen to know our thoughts on Watford and how we are looking," Bond said.

"We made preparations to come to the game and he was genuinely looking forward to it."

Bond, who always makes the 125-mile trip to the club's training ground with Redknapp, is in no doubt that the manager has missed being able to look after first-team affairs at their Chigwell base this week.

"He thrives on being at the training ground. He likes the environment, he enjoys it," Bond said.

"He is always full of conversation, full of stories. Not driving up and down with him for the last few days has been a lonely old drive in the mornings."

Bond was keen to emphasise that Redknapp's absence has not hindered the squad's preparation for what promises to be a crucial part of their season.

Today's fourth-round game at Vicarage Road is followed by a home game to Wigan on Tuesday and a visit to Anfield four days later.

The club managed without Redknapp for two weeks last November after he had a minor procedure to unblock coronary arteries and Bond insists the players, and the manager himself, remain focused on football matters despite this week's trial.

"He (Redknapp) has been no different to how he has always been," Bond said.

"He appears, when I speak to him -- and I would know -- to be every bit as focused as he has been.

"We haven't felt we had to have a conversation with the players.

"Everyone is aware of the ongoing situation and everybody gets on with it.

"Harry wasn't here for a few days a few weeks back and really we are just carrying on without him.

"To a large degree the training is exactly the same, it's just that Harry is not there overseeing it all.

"The players all understand that, we all understand that and get on with it in the same way as if he was here."

Redknapp is likely to rest a number of his key players for the game against the Hornets, who are 18th in the Championship.


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