Tottenham's title challenge has suffered a fresh blow with the news Luka Modric is facing two weeks on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on his appendix.
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Croatian star Modric has been a shining light for Spurs, with his craft in the middle of the park sparking their efforts both domestically and in Europe. But he was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery to remove his appendix on Tuesday and is facing time out as he recovers.
Modric could now miss Spurs' Champions League last-16 first leg at AC Milan on February 15 and is definitely out of Wednesday's Premier League game at Blackburn, Saturday's home clash with Bolton and the following weekend's trip to Sunderland.
"Luka Modric has undergone surgery to remove his appendix," A Spurs statement read. "The Croatia midfielder was diagnosed with acute appendicitis after contacting our medical staff complaining of abdominal discomfort. He is likely to be sidelined for around two weeks.''
Harry Redknapp has seen his side slip off the title pace and he made a string of bids to strengthen his squad on deadline day, failing with approaches for Charlie Adam, Giuseppe Rossi and Phil Neville.
The move for midfielders raised eyebrows, given the quality at Redknapp's disposal, but the setback to Modric could go some way to explaining his thinking.
Redknapp feels Spurs' title chances have been weakened by the work of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City in the transfer market.
"Before the window, I felt the title was up for grabs," Redknapp said. "It's going to get harder because the other teams are looking stronger.
"People were talking about Chelsea dropping out of the top four, but by signing Fernando Torres, Roman Abramovich has said 'I don't think so'. Liverpool are contenders for a top-four spot. Andy Carroll is a talent."