Defoe hails youngster Barnard
By Lewis Rutledge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Jermain Defoe has praised young striker Lee Barnard, who could start at West Ham.
Jermain Defoe has praised young striker Lee Barnard, who could start alongside him in Tottenham's crucial game against West Ham.
Spurs travel to Upton Park on Sunday holding a one-point advantage over Arsenal in the race for fourth place and needing to win to guarantee UEFA Champions League qualification, pending on The Gunners' result against Barcelona later this month.
Martin Jol is sweating on the fitness of several of his players though, including forwards Robbie Keane and Mido.
21-year-old Barnard has scored 19 goals for the reserves this term and could be given the chance to impress against The Hammers, but Defoe has insisted that his inclusion would not represent a considerable risk.
"I guess a lot of the fans do know about him because he has scored so many goals for the reserves," he explained.
"He is a great player in training and scores a lot of goals. He makes it look easy and it is good for the future of the club. Hopefully next season he will get more chances and score goals.
"I believe he can score goals in the Premiership because he is such a big talent.
"He is a typical English forward - he came on (against Bolton) and fought for every ball. He is not the biggest, but he is a strong lad and a good player."
Jol will still be weighing up whether to take a gamble on Keane, but his chances of recovering from an ankle injury appear slim.
"Robbie is probably the one I would risk but it is still 90-10 against him playing. It is all down to whether he can play with the injury - a twisted ankle," he said.
"I thought for maybe four months that if Mido wasn't here we might have a problem but Robbie and Jermain did fine together.
"I even think that Lee Barnard when he came on against Bolton gave me a lot of confidence."
Reto Ziegler is on loan at Wigan and could do his Spurs team-mates a massive favour by helping The Latics surprise Arsenal in the final game at Highbury.
However, the Swiss international is still in the dark about whether or not he will be returning to White Hart Lane next season.
""I've enjoyed it at Wigan. But beyond this season I don't know what is going to happen," he declared.
"I am still contracted to Tottenham and I will see how things go."