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Tottenham Boss Harry Redknapp Looking Forward To Wembley London Derby Against Chelsea

by Steven Constable

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HARRY REDKNAPP

White Hart Lane manager feels there are no favourites in FA Cup semi-finals.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp was left looking forward to a third FA Cup match at Wembley in five years after his side beat Bolton Wanderers 3-1 to set-up an all-London semi-final with Chelsea.

Redknapp took Tottenham to the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 2010 and, two years earlier, won the competition when in charge of Portsmouth.

Ryan Nelsen, Gareth Bale and Louis Saha scored second-half goals at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane ground here on Tuesday to down Premier League rivals Bolton, who managed a late consolation through Kevin Davies.

It was Tottenham’s first win in any competition since their 3-1 FA Cup fifth-round victory over Stevenage.

Redknapp said he was relishing a weekend of FA Cup derby action at Wembley on April 14-15, with Merseyside duo Liverpool and Everton meeting in the other semi-final.

“I am looking forward to it, it will be a great weekend,” said Redknapp, the favourite to succeed Fabio Capello as the next permanent manager of England.

“I wouldn’t like to pick a winner from either tie, Liverpool and Everton are both capable of winning the Cup.

“It is an even game, you couldn’t pick a winner between us and Chelsea,” he added.

“Chelsea have beaten Benfica in the Champions League tonight (the Blues won 1-0 in Tuesday’s quarter-final first leg in Lisbon), which was a fantastic result, so it is wide open.

“I was pleased with us again tonight, but I have not been displeased with how we have been playing recently. Sometimes you get the breaks and sometimes you don’t.

“Before the semi-final we have some difficult league games. But picking up the result tonight and getting us to a semi-final can be a help,” said Redknapp.

Tottenham, who were scintillating earlier in the season, have seen their grip on a place in next season’s Champions League loosen in recent weeks, with both Chelsea and Newcastle threatening their top-four spot.

Hungarian goalkeeper Adam Bogdan kept Bolton in the match for most of the game with saves to deny Emmanuel Adebayor, Gareth Bale, Jake Livemore, including some excellent double stops.

Tottenham’s Rafael van der Vaart hit the bar just after half-time, before Nelsen broke the deadlock minutes with a powerful header from a corner in the 74th minute.

Bale added the second three minutes later but Davies pulled one back with a minute to go, before Saha, a late substitute, restored Spurs’ two-goal cushion with the last kick of the game.

Redknapp hailed New Zealand international Nelsen’s contribution since the former Blackburn defender signed a six-month contract and indicated he was ready to extend the deal.

“He has a six-month contract, but at the end of the season I have got to keep him here, because he is worth his weight in gold.

“The way he trains, the way he behaves, his attitude — that is what football clubs are built on. People like him come in and change everything.

“He is a top pro and a really good player and a fantastic bloke. I couldn’t believe I could get him when I got him on a free. I had been chasing him for years,” Redknapp added.

Tuesday’s match had been rearranged from March 17, when the game had to be abandoned due to Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffering a cardiac arrest at White Hart Lane.

And both Redknapp and Bolton counterpart Owen Coyle said the fact Muamba, still in the London Chest Hospital, had shown such encouraging signs of progress, had removed the sense of dread hanging over the fixture.

“It has been a miracle to see the boy recover as he has,” Redknapp said. “When he left here that night everybody feared the worst.

“But it is great news that his spirits are up and please God he makes the recovery we hope he can.”

Coyle added: “The reason we are here is because we knew Fabrice was getting better. Was it difficult after the events of last Saturday? Yes of course, but we wanted to progress to the semi-final.

“The way Tottenham conducted themselves was fantastic. But in the football context we want to win every game we can.”

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