Gareth Bale may already strike fear into the FC Internazionale Milano ranks but according to Tottenham Hotspur FC manager Harry Redknapp the 21-year-old's best is still to come.
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If Tottenham Hotspur FC youngster Gareth Bale did not deliver a sufficiently thrilling show of his prodigious talents at San Siro a fortnight ago, his manager Harry Redknapp has further highlighted his potential by saying he will only get better.
Bale, 21, was the talk of European football after the second-half hat-trick that took Tottenham from four goals down to 4-3 at FC Internazionale Milano on Matchday 3 and, according to Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, the sky really is the limit for the Welsh international. "He's still really young and can only get better," Redknapp said. "He's got height, power, can run all day, shoot and dribble. He's a great athlete, it's all there for him."
Redknapp added that keeping Bale's feet on the ground after his scoring feats in Milan had not been a problem. "He keeps his feet on the ground himself. He's such a quiet level-headed boy. He's not at all flashy. I gave him a couple of days off because I thought he needed a rest."
Bale's achievement and the spirited response of his ten-man team to falling 4-0 behind inside 35 minutes in Milan has convinced the left-back turned midfielder that Tottenham can turn the tables in London. "It was nice to get a hat-trick but the most important thing is to get the victory," Bale said. "We want to get the points and get to the knockout stage and the only way to do that is winning.
"We don't need any motivation. It's going to be a massive game. We all want to test ourselves against the best and they are the current champions. It will be a big game but at home we are always confident we can win and have the players to do that. This time we'll be fully prepared from the first whistle and hopefully give them a run for their money. It's important we learn from our mistakes."
With Bale's batteries recharged, Redknapp is hopeful the former Southampton FC prodigy and his Spurs colleagues will go into the Group A return fixture against the UEFA Champions League holders buoyed by their second-half fightback in Milan. "They know, as I said, that we can cause Inter problems," said Redknapp.
"Maicon is supposed to be the best attacking right-back in the world but he had problems stopping Gareth going the other way. Don't get me wrong, though. We know how hard it's going to be. I saw Inter last year win at Chelsea and they were fantastic. They've got some proper men in their team – [Dejan] Stanković, [Esteban] Cambiasso, people like that. They've got some great competitors, but we've got a chance. If we can take four points from the last two home games, it should be enough to see us through to the knockout round."
Tottenham sit second in Group A with four points, three behind Inter. Redknapp was full of praise for Inter's "excellent" movement in the clubs' first meeting and warned his side to avoid another false start after shipping three goals inside 14 minutes in Italy.
"They play and run, play and run, and we have to be switched on properly from the start. At one point I thought it could be five, six or even seven-nil, which would have been terrible. But we've got good players here and we know we can cause problems in certain areas of their team. There are definitely parts of their team we can hurt, though obviously I can't divulge too much yet."
This is Tottenham's first UEFA Champions League campaign and Redknapp believes his players are in no way intimidated by the experience. "In terms of the group stage, I have a squad of internationals here so they haven't been fazed so far," he said. "The Croatian boys came to Wembley and beat England not so long ago. Some of the others played in the World Cup this year so it's certainly not a question of, 'Oh my God, it's the Champions League'."