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SHARPENING UP

Posted on 19 January 2007  - 12:00

Martin Jol was happy to restore a few players to full match sharpness in midweek ahead of a busy fortnight and a bit ahead.

Martin Jol was happy to restore a few players to full match sharpness in midweek ahead of a busy fortnight and a bit ahead.Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Anthony Gardner, Didier Zokora and Robbie Keane all started against Cardiff at the Lane on Wednesday after recent relative inactivity and the manager pointed out that it will prove vital match practice given that the team face a fixture list that has conjured up a demanding run of five games in 15 days - a period that will see us take on Fulham, Arsenal twice, Southend and Manchester United.

"That is what we have to do because we face five games in a short space of time and that is tough, but we have to win games," said Martin on his decision to shuffle his pack for the FA Cup third round replay.

"Jermain was flying, doing well, and I thought it was probably one of his best games for us against Newcastle. We've got a lot of games though and I can't gamble because I need them all sharp and they need matches.

"It is certainly no gamble to play Robbie Keane, he played so well and if Robbie is fit he will work for the team and always tries his best to play well. That is what he did then Jermain came on and proved to us again that he is in fine form."

Meanwhile, Martin went on to make a special mention on Steed Malbranque, who has been particularly impressive over our last two games - scoring a cracker against Cardiff.

"When he arrived he was injured and that obviously didn’t help but since he’s been fit he's played all the games and getting better and better. I like him. He gives the team great work-rate and has talent and that’s a very good combination.

"Steed has done very well since coming to this club and hopefully the fans love him because he is working very hard.

"He can score goals as well, he proved that against Charlton, against Portsmouth with a fine header and again here against Cardiff. Hopefully he will go on to score many goals for Spurs."