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Sun 10 Feb 2008 07:38 AM

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Injury crisis threatens Spurs

Tottenham could be without two key defenders for the League Cup final against Chelsea.

Tottenham could be without two key defenders for the League Cup final against Chelsea on February 24 after Michael Dawson was injured in the 3-0 Premier League victory at Derby.

With doubts persisting over Ledley King's fitness, manager Juande Ramos could have done without the muscle injury sustained by Dawson after only 11 minutes here on Saturday.

His replacement, Younes Kaboul, scored the second of three second-half goals as Spurs clinched a comfortable away victory -- only their second in the league outside White Hart Lane this term.

Robbie Keane scored the first after 68 minutes, with Dimitar Berbatov - left on the bench with the UEFA Cup tie at Slavia Prague on Thursday in mind - netting the third from the penalty spot in injury time.

Ramos revealed: "We think Michael Dawson suffered a muscle tear. We do not know how bad it is yet."

"But at the early stages, we are thinking he could be out for perhaps two or three weeks. We hope that both Dawson and King recover from their injuries, but these problems are all part of football."

Although Derby, who have won just one of their 26 Premier League games this season and are virtual certainties for relegation, tested Spurs for the first hour of the game, the London team's class told as soon as Keane had put them ahead.

The impact made by Berbatov, who replaced Darren Bent just before the hour mark, showed that an injury to either the Bulgarian or Robbie Keane would seriously compromise Spurs' bid for silverware, especially with Jermain Defoe having been allowed to join Portsmouth during the January transfer window.

Young midfielder Jamie O'Hara also made a major impression after replacing Kevin-Prince Boateng for the second half, although Ramos insisted that his entire squad would have a significant part to play during the coming weeks.

He continued: "We have some very important games coming up in the next few weeks, so the idea is not so much to rotate the squad, but to give different players time and give others rest."

"Against Derby, it was Berbatov's turn, and with the match still at 0-0 when I brought him on, we wanted to get three important points."

"Clearly, Berbatov played his part in our victory, but it was a magnificent effort from everyone to enable us to win the game."

"O'Hara was also important. The first half was very hurried, and we needed someone like Jamie to put his foot on the ball and bring a bit more order to our play. He did that very well."

Derby manager Paul Jewell has all but admitted that his team will be relegated, but he is confident that they can establish themselves as a force in the top flight in the future.

The Rams have recently benefited from significant investment from American tycoons Tom Glick and Andy Appleby, of the General Sports and Entertainment company, and Jewell sees a bright future.

He said: "This club has the capacity to compete in the top ten of the Premier League. You can see that from the 33,058 crowd here today.

"We are a million miles away from that at the moment, but sometimes you have to take one step backwards to take two steps forwards."

"If we can get things right on the pitch, everything else will take care of itself. It will take a miracle for us to stay in the Premier League this season, but that doesn't take away the fact that there is huge potential here."

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