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Friday, March 1, 2013
Defoe could return to face Gunners

Kevin Palmer

Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe is set to return to action in Sunday's north London derby at White Hart Lane.

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Defoe has been out since limping off with an ankle injury during the win at West Bromwich Albion at the start of February, but manager Andre Villas-Boas indicated that he was considering starting him in place out-of-form Emmanuel Adebayor against Arsenal.

"Jermain trained with the team these last two days, so hopefully he is going to be available for selection," Villas-Boas said.

"Tomorrow [Saturday] he will train once again, and he is definitely a big contender for the team. It is good to have him back."

Villas-Boas acknowledged that a win against the Gunners could be decisive in Tottenham's bid for a top-four finish, but stressed: "I don't think it [the top-four battle] will all be decided on what happens this weekend."

"A seven-point difference if we manage to win is still recoverable for a team like Arsenal. If it comes to a one-point difference, things get closer to us. It's all very tight still.

"We were glad last week to build a difference with Everton to nine points. It's still not enough, but we just have to keep going.

"We are on a good run of form and approach this game in a more confident manner than Arsenal. We had a good month in February, and we want to extend that until mid-April as that will mean we can reach our objectives."

He said it would be "tremendous" for Spurs fans if they could finish above Arsenal, adding: "The rivalry is fantastic. There is a demand to have success in this fixture - it means a lot to everyone in north London. It is a special game.

"We have to play this game with lots of emotion, and emotion will decide this game rather than any tactical preparation."

A defeat to Arsenal towards the end of last season sparked a collapse in form that ultimately cost Tottenham, then managed by Harry Redknapp, a place in the Champions League.

And Villas-Boas said: "I think that serves as an example for these players of what can happen."

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