Originally posted on Fox Soccer  |  Last updated 12/18/11
Tottenham failed to test Sunderland goalkeeper Keiren Westwood in a dull first half, but they sprung to life just after the hour when substitute Pavlyuchenko latched on to Rafael van der Vaart's reverse pass and fired home a powerful low drive. It was an exquisite finish from the 30-year-old, but he would not have even been on the pitch had it not been for the suspected hamstring tear which caused Aaron Lennon to be brought off in the first half. Indeed, the striker may not have been in the Spurs matchday squad had Jermain Defoe not been ruled out prior to kick-off with a hamstring problem. Pavlyuchenko has voiced his desire to leave White Hart Lane on a number of occasions this season after the arrival of Emmanuel Adebayor and the form of Rafael van der Vaart saw him drop down the pecking order at the north London club. Redknapp admits he may struggle to keep Pavlyuchenko happy, but insists he will try to hang on to the Russian if he can. "He's a fantastic player. He's got real talent. He's got great ability, I think. He's got a good left foot, a good right foot and is a great finisher," Redknapp said. "He's top drawer but he's just been unlucky. He didn't start the season great. He hasn't really shown the form that he's capable of so he's slipped down the pecking order a bit. "It's difficult. Some people are going to be upset they're not in the team. "Today I lost a wide man but I thought I'd change it and if you want someone to score he's always likely to. I want to keep all four (strikers). You need them all." Tottenham looked out of sorts in the opening half and rarely played the kind of football that had seen them go on an 11-match unbeaten run recently. They missed the presence of Gareth Bale, who was absent with a foot injury, and Lennon's withdrawal deprived the Londoners of the usual pace and penetration down the flanks. Lennon will miss Thursday's London derby against top-four rivals Chelsea while Bale is a doubt for the game. "Lennon felt the hamstring tear. He's got no chance for Thursday," Redknapp said. "It'll be weeks, if it's a tear. "We'll see about Bale. He's sprained his ankle. He just did it in training. "There's every chance Defoe will be fit." Sunderland are now within one point of the relegation zone after the defeat which was harsh on the Wearsiders, who frustrated Spurs for large parts of the game. Brad Friedel saved superbly from Sebastian Larsson and Kieran Richardson, and the former Manchester United winger was guilty of missing a gilt-edged opportunity to give the Black Cats the lead in the first half. Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill was happy with his team's efforts in his second game in charge. "I didn't think any player wearing a Sunderland shirt today downed tools," O'Neill said. "I saw an effort. It was a little bit misguided at times, but these are the things we have to rectify. Getting goals is difficult. "I as disappointed to lose the game but I couldn't ask for much more in terms of effort. "There were certainly a lot of things I felt were pretty good about us and we certainly never gave up. "We were euphoric last week having won the game (against Blackburn), but tasted defeat today against a really fine Tottenham side." O'Neill, whose team take on QPR on Wednesday, had to withdraw 18-year-old striker Connor Wickham at half-time through injury. The former Leicester boss played down fears the striker, who recently recovered from a serious knee injury, is facing another spell on the sidelines, however. "I think Connor's going to be okay," O'Neill said.
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