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Crouch and Defoe Rescue Second-string Tottenham

Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe rescue second-string TottenhamManchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal are all up before Harry Redknapp's side during the opening six weeks of the Premier League season, so the roar that greeted Luka Modric's introduction after 26 minutes here was the congregation hoping their best player may yet stay.

So far, Harry Redknapp has managed to quieten the chat around Modric, following Chelsea's £22m bid earlier this summer and the Croatian making it apparent he wished to leave.

Whether Redknapp has managed to keep Modric will become clearer over the coming weeks. He is conscious that if Spurs have any chance of regaining their Champions League berth they must start the campaign strongly, though a summer recruitment drive that has so far started and finished with Brad Friedel does not augur well.

Joe Jordan, Redknapp's assistant, was asked following an encounter during which Tottenham improved in the second half, whether his gut feeling was that Modric would remain. "I don't know," was his honest reply.

Redknapp's final look at his squad before Everton roll up here to start the latest Premier League jamboree did not reveal much. When Gareth Bale and Peter Crouch were introduced at half-time, the pair combined for the striker to level from his Welsh colleague's cross, following a trademark burst down the left. Jermain Defoe, another replacement at the break, required only four more minutes to crash home Aaron Lennon's pull-backscore the winner.

Big-guns-turn-match-around is hardly a revelation. Especially in a warm-up. And Redknapp will also not have been thrown by the display of his second-string players.

Niko Kranjcar, who is in this category, missed a 70th-minute penalty, and there were also disappointing turns from Jermaine Jenas and Heurelho Gomes in the first half. "We are looking to clear some fringe players but we've not had [any] takers," the manager confirmed.

Jenas, one of football's lost talents, once appeared to have the guile to change the pattern of a game. Yet beyond a run from midfield to pull a shot wide, the 28-year-old was anonymous and, like Gomes, did not walk out when the sides turned aroundreturn after the break.

The Brazilian, whose time in the No1 shirt appears limited due to Friedel's arrival, produced one trademark flap from a corner. And, he could do nothing to stop Mikel San José's opener, which arrived after Steven Pienaar, who may miss the season's start with a groin problem, was removed for Modric.

Crouch later confirmed the club's intent. "I still believe we've got good enough players to challenge for that top-four spot and I think that's got to be the aim," he said. This is a more credible goal if Modric stays.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jamie Jackson at White Hart Lane, for The Observer on Saturday 6th August 2011 20.22 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

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