Rafael van der Vaart is Harry Redknapp's major selection doubt for Saturday's lunchtime visit to Bolton Wanderers' Reebok Stadium, where Tottenham Hotspur have never won in the Premier League and where they hope to build on the feelgood factor generated by their Champions League triumph over Internazionale.
Van der Vaart was forced off at half-time on Tuesday night, having set his team on their way to the 3-1 victory over the European champions with his sixth goal in five White Hart Lane appearances. As he did at Manchester United the previous Saturday, the midfielder felt tightness in his hamstring and he came off as a precaution.
Redknapp joked after the Inter game that Van der Vaart, who signed on transfer deadline day, had "never been to Bolton" and he suggested that the Reebok away might not be the right match for the skilful Holland playmaker. "I'll have to think and see how he is," said Redknapp .
The Spurs players were given yesterday off and they only went through a warm-down today, meaning Redknapp must wait until tomorrow's final training session before making a decision on Van der Vaart. If he is short of fitness, Redknapp has the option of bringing in Wilson Palacios, Sandro or Jermaine Jenas to beef up a five-man midfield for what is usually an exacting test. In 10 previous Premier League visits to Bolton, Tottenham have drawn four and lost six.
One of the big tests for Tottenham this season concerns how they fare in the Premier League immediately after Champions League ties, which place tremendous mental and physical demands on the players. So far, they have coped reasonably well, winning three times and losing once, with one draw. The blip was the home defeat to Wigan Athletic, which followed the play-off second-leg victory over Young Boys of Bern.