Harry Redknapp’s aim of a top four finish for his Tottenham team is drifting off course but the arrival of a Sunderland team without the talismanic Darren Bent will give some encouragement he can get back on target at White Hart Lane on Tuesday.
Four defeats from eleven games is not the form to qualify for next season’s Champions League, but Tottenham may be forgiven a lapse in focus given their efforts in his year’s competition and last week’s drubbing of reigning champions Inter Milan.
Gareth Bale continued his inspiring form to tear apart the Inter defence but the 3-1 win came at a cost to others in midfield.
Rafael va der Vaart limped off after aggravating his old hamstring injury and Aaron Lennon was left suffering a similar problem.
Both missed the 4-2 defeat at Bolton at the weekend and are doubtful to start on Tuesday.
William Gallas is expected to be sidelined after picking up a knock at the Reebok to add to Redknapp’s problems in the centre of defence.
Ledley King , Michael Dawson and Jonathan Woodgate all have long term injuries and Verdan Corluka could be asked to play in the centre after returning from a groin injury to make the bench on Saturday.
Up front, Jermain Defoe is still a week from a return and Robbie Keane is doubtful with an ankle knock.
Steve Bruce will give Asamoah Gyan his second start; Sunderland’s record signing has had to be patient since joining the club, but proved an admirable replacement for Darren Bent when scoring both goals in the 2-0 win against Stoke at the weekend.
Bent injured his hamstring in training on Friday and will be out for three weeks.
Titus Bramble has served his one-match ban after being sent off in the 5-1 defeat in the Tyne-Wear derby and could go straight in to replace John Mensah who looked to be struggling with a shoulder problem against Stoke.
Fraizer Campbell is denied the opportunity to play against his former club, he has been ruled out until March with a knee injury and promising midfielder David Meyler is scheduled to return from his knee injury next month.
Sunderland beat Tottenham 2-1 at White Hart Lane early in 2008/09 season and were unlucky to lose 2-0 last season after dominating the game.
888 Sport bet 6/1 for the away win an outcome that wouldn’t shock either manager.
Possible starting lineups:
TOTTENHAM: Gomes; Hutton, Kaboul, Corluka, Assou-Ekotto, Kranjcar, Huddlestone, Modric, Bale, Crouch, Pavlyuchenko.
SUNDERLAND: Mignolet; Onouha, Turner, Bramble, Bardsley, El Mohamady, Cattermole, Henderson, Malbranque, Welbeck, Gyan.