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Bale fit for Man City showdown

ESPN staff
April 19, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »

Tottenham Hotspur boss Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed he expects Gareth Bale to be fit to play in Sunday's Premier League game against Manchester City.

Bale has returned to training in the last couple of days after recovering from the ankle injury he sustained in the Europa League clash with FC Basel two and half weeks ago, with Villas-Boas insisting he will not be taking a gamble by naming the Welshman in his starting line-up for the crucial game against champions City at White Hart Lane.

"Gareth has made good progress from the start of the week to training with the team for the last two days," Villas-Boas said. "He has a good chance to play. This is the decision I still have to make. It should be no problem."

There had been initial fears that Bale would not feature again this season, but his speedy recovery is a huge boost to Tottenham's hopes of reviving their push for a top-four finish.

Tottenham lost momentum in their race for a Champions League finish after defeats against Liverpool and Fulham were followed by a home draw against Everton in their last Premier League fixture, and they are currently behind London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea in the table.

Bale's return, then, provides a timely boost, and his confidence should been fuelled by the news that he has been nominated for both the PFA Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards. Villas-Boas believes his star man could take the silverware when it is awarded next weekend.

"It has been a great, great season for Bale," he said. "I think he is a serious contender and all of us would be extremely happy if he was to win it.

"Obviously, 'Gazza' had had an outstanding year, along with other players. He is such a young player, having a tremendous impact on the league this year. Great goal-scoring form, has played in so many positions with such success. His maturity and responsibility is outstanding.

"We have also seen a great season from Van Persie, from Luis Suarez, and there are other names included. Gareth has had some spectacular moments. Van Persie has won it before and I'm not sure if it is a decisive factor if he repeats the reward.

"I am extremely happy to see Juan Mata in the list as well. He has had a tremendous season. It is now the vote of the players."

Villas-Boas went on to express his surprise that Manchester City defender Matija Nastasic was not nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year prize.

"He has been one of the great players of the season," he said. "For his first year in the Premier League, he has been outstanding."

Villas-Boas confirmed that striker Jermain Defoe is also fit to return to action after sitting out the last three games with a muscle problem, but winger Aaron Lennon is a major doubt for Sunday's game against City as he has yet to train with the first team after the injury he sustained in the home tie with Basel.

"There has been a recovery from Defoe - he has trained with the team all week," Villas-Boas added. "Lennon has been recovering progressively, but he hasn't trained with the team yet. There is still only one more session to go, so we will see."

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