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Thursday, 22 August 2013 00:00

Dinamo Tibilisi v Tottenham preview: Andre Villas-Boas quiet on Gareth Bale after Europa League vow

Portuguese clams up over winger but eyes progress in Europe
by Alex Ballard

Football: Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas refused to be drawn on the future of Gareth Bale today, though he did vow not to treat the Europa League as an afterthought even as Spurs eye a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The north Londoners open their continental campaign in Georgia against Dinamo Tibilisi tomorrow night, though the pre-match press conference at the Dinamo Stadium was dominated by speculation that Bale was on the brink of a world-record move to Real Madrid.

Villas-Boas spoke about the Welsh star with an air of resignation but would not go into details, while remaining tightlipped on potential deals for Anzhi’s Willian — who had a medical at White Hart Lane today — and Erik Lamela of Roma.

However as Spurs prepared for the first-leg Europa League qualifier, the Portuguese did insist that he would take the competition seriously.

Villas-Boas said: “Last season I think we prioritised both competitions in the end. Same objective this season. We approach this season the same.

“We often played the same team Thursday to Sunday last season and had good success on Sundays. This playoff is very important to us.”

Spurs, who opened the season with a 1-0 win at newly promoted Crystal Palace on Sunday, will be without Bale tomorrow night as the Welshman is sidelined through injury.

Asked if the winger had already signed for Real Madrid, Villas-Boas said: “I cannot say anything about that but it is not true.”

Yet whether he stays or goes, the Portuguese was adamant that Tottenham would be stronger in the coming season — though he was quick to write off their title chances.

“Yes I believe we can be stronger than the season before,” he added.

“I believe what we are doing will show this. I don’t agree we can be title contenders for the season coming. We have to create a team. We haven’t had time to work with them.”

Meanwhile at the Liberty Stadium Swansea will bid to bounce back from a 4-1 home thrashing at the hands of Manchester United as they face Petrolul Ploiesti.

Michael Laudrup’s men endured a sobering start to their Premier League campaign on Saturday but midfielder Jose Canas believes the vociferous home support can roar them on to a good result tomorrow night.

Establishing a first-leg cushion for next week’s decider in Romania could prove crucial and, after being lifted by the home fans during the United loss, Canas is hoping for more of the same.

“The support, even when we were 2-0 and 3-0 down, was amazing,” said the Spaniard.

“If they can be the same tomorrow that will really help the team.”

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