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Pleat: No easy pickings

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

David Pleat suspects we will be in for tough assignments in the cup competitions as White Hart Lane tussles with Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace loom.

First up are Middlesbrough - our reward for Carling Cup success against Manchester City in round four - next Wednesday and, in the FA Cup third round draw made on Saturday, Palace will head to the Lane on Saturday January 3, 2004.

Kick-off for the visit of the Eagles will be 3pm and, should a replay be neccessary, the game will take place at Selhurst Park on Wednesday January 14, kick off to be advised.

Boro secured a goalless at the Lane in late October when, after a sticky patch, the Teesiders produced a resolute performance and were fully worth their point. Since that encounter, Steve McClaren's side have remained unbeaten in the Premiership and have not conceded a goal in six games.

"We thought they were a good side when they came here and thought they were the more efficient side on the day," reflected David. "They came at us in the second half, particularly with Zenden and Mendieta. They looked dangerous.

"Since that time Ehiogu is getting fit, Southgate is doing a super marshalling job for them and, what can I say? - you can't get all those clean sheets without being a good side."

Palace, meanwhile, are currently under the stewardship of caretaker-player boss Kit Symons, following the departure of Steve Kember, and David does not expect an easy passage on FA Cup third round day.

"Crystal Palace will present a tough task," he added. "They've won three away games, it is a local derby and a great leveller. I'm quite sure it is going to be a close game."