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AVB unfazed by Gareth Bale absence ahead of Inter Milan clash

They’re three goals up so Spurs might just get away without having their banned winger this evening. You’d think.

Andre Villas-Boas: upbeat.
Andre Villas-Boas: upbeat.
Image: action images

TOTTENHAM MANAGER Andre Villas-Boas is not daunted by the prospect of facing Inter Milan without star man Gareth Bale.

Spurs head into their Europa League round-of-16 second-leg clash at San Siro tonight holding a 3-0 advantage after the first leg at White Hart Lane, but Bale will miss the return clash through suspension.

The Welshman has been in scintillating form this season for Spurs, but Villas-Boas feels his side will rise to the occasion even without the brilliant winger.

“We’ve been in situations where he hasn’t been with us but obviously Gareth, with the form he’s in, he can make the difference in every single game, so the squad will miss him,” Villas-Boas said.

“I don’t think the squad will try to prove anything without him, because we believe a lot in ourselves, we also believe a lot in Gareth – but it’s not a question of proving ourselves without him. But hopefully we can do just enough to go through, that’s our main focus for tomorrow.”

Villas-Boas denied he would field a weakened side for the game, and insisted the Europa League is a competition his squad is not taking lightly.

“We will play a strong team to make sure we go through in this competition,” he said. “We take this game very seriously. It’s been a brilliant experience so far and it shows the route we’ve chosen to take, by playing it seriously, has paid off in terms of these fixtures, which has been amazing.

“Hopefully if we can manage to overcome Inter we can put ourselves in a strong position, although we admit there are still some very strong teams in the mix.”

Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni, meanwhile, is remaining positive despite rampant speculation about his future. Inter have fallen to fifth in Serie A, and suffered a 1-0 loss to Bologna at home in their most recent league start.

“At the moment things are going wrong and we are not playing well, it’s pointless to deny it,” Stramaccioni said. “It’s up to me as Inter coach to find a way to give my team and my players the confidence we have had in the past and that we lost on the way.

“Let’s leave the reasons aside for now — we’re working on those together. We are all aware of the importance of the next 10 games in Serie A, but our mind is focused only on tomorrow night’s game against Tottenham. Both the guys and me want to play well this game and try to gain a good result. Only after Thursday’s game we will focus on the Serie A,” he added.

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