Sherwood expects Saints encounter to be a tough one

Tim Sherwood is hoping Tottenham can build on their promising midweek display in their "tough" return to league action against Southampton.

An overcrowded midfield...

Despite being 3-1 down from the first leg against Benfica and without 11 first-teamers, Spurs avoided a fourth successive defeat on Thursday as they staged an improbable comeback in the Europa League last-16 tie.

The 2-2 draw saw them fall just short of progressing but saw them return to north London with renewed optimism ahead of Sunday's clash with Southampton, who were the opponents when Sherwood managed his first Barclays Premier League match in December.

"Listen, the expectancy is very high at the club and with every right, a lot of money has been spent by Tottenham," the Spurs boss, whose future continues to be scrutinised, said.

"It counts for nothing, it's all about doing the job on the pitch and they (Southampton) have got a lot of internationals.

"They've built a good squad and a good way of playing. They've got a lot of England internationals who are going to be representing our country in the World Cup. It's going to be a tough game."

Eighth-placed Saints head into the match three places and eight points worse off than Spurs, yet they are considered one of the season's most impressive performers.

Mauricio Pochettino's side have earned many plaudits for their performances and focus on home-grown talent, with academy graduates Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana strong contenders to make England's World Cup squad.

"It's a good model," Sherwood said. "It's a completely different model to Tottenham, as much as we want to bring our boys through.

"Our boys have to be at a level of playing Premier League to Champions League. Southampton have had the benefit of their players being developed from League One to the Championship to now. So it's good.

"It's a good model. Now is a test for them. How many can they deliver into the Premier League straight away?"

It is an interesting question but one that could also be levelled at Tottenham and their summer acquisitions, with their £100million-plus summer spend yet to bear fruit.

Roberto Soldado, bought at a cost of £26million from Valencia, is one of those players and was ineffective in the 2-2 draw at Benfica, with Harry Kane, his replacement after 71 minutes, a much bigger threat.

"He's a good trainer, he's a real good lad, he wants to do well," Sherwood said of the Spaniard. "We all want him to do well.

"The fans wish him well. He's not on the pitch and they sing his name. You almost become a better player when you're not playing.

"I know that from not playing. When you're not playing and the team don't win, the ones who are sitting on the sidelines become better."

There is an argument for Kane to start instead of Soldado on Sunday, when Emmanuel Adebayor is likely to return having missed the trip to Portugal.

Mousa Dembele is available after missing the last four matches with a hamstring injury and Younes Kaboul returns to a Spurs defence also boosted by the availability of Jan Vertonghen, who was suspended against Benfica.

Hugo Lloris is another back in the frame for Sunday's match, although Vlad Chiriches, Michael Dawson, Etienne Capoue and Erik Lamela remain sidelined.



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