Euro hurt can aid top four bid, says Tottenham manager Villas-Boas

Updated: 26 April 2013 09:21 IST

Villas-Boas has been handed a fitness boost as England winger Aaron Lennon is ready to return from a knee problem. Jermain Defoe could start after returning from a pelvic injury last weekend, coming off the bench and scoring in the victory over Manchester City.

Euro hurt can aid top four bid, says Tottenham manager Villas-Boas
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Wigan:

Andre Villas-Boas has warned Tottenham's top-four rivals that he can see determination from his players to make up for last season's Champions League disappointment.

Spurs missed out on a place in Europe's top competition last season as Chelsea qualified as holders, meaning fourth place in the Premier League missed out.

This season they have qualification in their own hands as they prepare to face FA Cup finalists Wigan at the DW Stadium on Saturday and Spurs manager Villas-Boas believes the pain of last year's failure will ensure they don't underestimate the Latics.

"The determination is visible and they have made it public as well," Villas-Boas said.

"I think all of them really want to get in to the Champions League next season and most of them are playing with that ambition and playing with the experience of last year, for sure."

Villas-Boas has been handed a fitness boost as England winger Aaron Lennon is ready to return from a knee problem.

"He is training with the team all week so he will be available for selection," Villas-Boas said.

"He is a good player to have back, he has had a tremendous impact. It is another big boost for the squad."

Jermain Defoe could start after returning from a pelvic injury last weekend, coming off the bench and scoring in the victory over Manchester City.

Villas-Boas added: "It's very important particularly because he found the back of the net.

"Goalkeepers have been making impossible saves against him and he finally got the ball in the net the other day with a tremendous goal that helped us achieve the three points.

"That's good because of the year he was having up to that moment - he had a blip in goals but not in performances.

"It's important to have more options, he gives us that quality and confidence by scoring."

Fifth placed Spurs may be dreaming of Europe, but Villas-Boas is wary of Wigan's threat as they have a habit of beating bigger clubs when survival is on the line.

"It's extremely difficult to play teams that are fighting for that position, for salvation," he said.

"Their motivation is immense. They want to remain in the league.

"I think probably out of these remaining games the Wigan game could be the decisive factor for our run in."

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez revealed that Antolin Alcaraz may not play again this season after the Latics defender tore his hamstring in last weekend's defeat at West Ham.

Martinez remains hopeful the Paraguayan may return in time for the FA Cup final against Manchester City on May 11, but is concerned that he may have to plan without the player who returned in February from a groin injury.

"That was the real negative from the West Ham game, and we fear he will not be available again this season," said Martinez.

"The hope is that in three weeks there will be a good opportunity for him to play again, and that would be a big positive."

Ben Watson could return for the visit of Spurs, however, as the midfielder has now recovered from the broken leg he suffered in November.

"He has been working with the rest of the players for the past three weeks, and it is merely a matter of making sure his match fitness is up to requirements," added Martinez.

"It would not be a surprise if he was involved in one of the squads in the next week or so, and it could even be against Tottenham this weekend. I wouldn't rule him out."

The Latics are three points adrift of safety going into this game but Martinez remains hopeful following last season's great escape.

"Our players are very strong, they have got the experience they have been through this time after time," he said.

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