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Steven's new start

Steven Pienaar is looking to kick-start his Spurs career at Rubin Kazan tonight.

Steven Pienaar is looking to kick-start his Spurs career at Rubin Kazan tonight.

The midfielder has been sidelined with a groin injury since pre-season but has fought his way back to fitness and is expected to start in Russia.

Our fourth group match in the Europa League will represent the South African international’s first appearance of the 2011-12 campaign.

“I’m over the nightmare I had a few months ago so hopefully I’ll be able to play and get some minutes,” said Steven, who featured 10 times last season, including playing in both legs of our Champions League triumph over AC Milan.

“It’s been the most difficult period of my career.

“When you join a new team you want to start fully fit but I got injured quite early and it slowed down my progress to fight for a place in the team.

“I’ve been working hard to get back and now I’ll try to win a place in the team. It’s difficult but it's part and parcel of the game so you have to be strong and keep on working.

“When you are injured you fall down the pecking order. So you have to make sure you get fit, that’s important, be patient and work hard.

“For me, this is an opportunity to get some minutes and hopefully I’ll do that and enjoy it.”

Meanwhile, Steven knows plenty about Rubin – his international team-mate MacBeth Sibaya played for the club for seven years and he was with current Rubin striker Nelson Valdez at Borussia Dortmund in Germany.

“They are an experienced team who did well in the Champions League, won their league for two years in a row and have a great manager,” he added.

“It will be a tough game for us. We just have to work hard, fight and make sure we get the points."