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Spurs and Basel supporting casts in spotlight

Tottenham Hotspur FC boss André Villas-Boas will ask his strikers to negate the loss of Jermain Defoe while FC Basel 1893's Murat Yakin must deal with defensive absentees.

André Villas-Boas oversees Tottenham's training session on Wednesday morning
André Villas-Boas oversees Tottenham's training session on Wednesday morning ©Getty Images

André Villas-Boas is backing his forwards to make up for the loss of influential striker Jermain Defoe as Tottenham Hotspur FC seek to gain the initiative in their quarter-final opener against FC Basel 1893.

Defoe has scored four times in eight UEFA Europa League games, as well as ten times in the Premier League, but his absence through injury means Spurs require an alternative source of goals if they are to reach the last four. "Jermain has a muscle injury and is out for the next two games, maybe Basel away too," said Villas-Boas. "It is a big blow. It is the same muscle he had a small tear in last month. He is a big miss as he has shown tremendous quality this season."

Gareth Bale's stellar performances behind the front man – yielding a combined 20 goals in the league and UEFA Europa League – have masked Tottenham's shortcomings in attack. When he was suspended at FC Internazionale Milano in the round of 16 second leg, Spurs could only progress on away goals after a 4-1 reverse after extra time. Villas-Boas, desperate to avoid overreliance on the Welsh talisman, is challenging the likes of Clint Dempsey and Emmanuel Adebayor, with seven league strikes between them, to chip in.

"Dempsey and Bale have played up front," he said. "We've had periods where strikers have been injured – sometimes we have coped, sometimes not so well. Gareth is confident playing as a striker and we are getting the best out of him. Adebayor has been helping the team but not scoring as much. He links the team up, so has adapted to doing something different, sometimes at the expense of goals. We have kept faith and will try to help him."

Tottenham may be favourites in the tie but Villas-Boas is not underestimating a Basel team used to shocking more fancied sides. "They have European experience that we don't, and had tremendous results against sides like Manchester United, Sporting and Bayern," said the 35-year-old. "It is difficult now as all eight teams believe they can win the trophy. The key will be teams' motivation and the quality of individuals – we have superior players but they have experience. They have played in the Champions League and have a team of regular trophy winners. Recent experience makes them one of the favourites. They put out Zenit [in the last 16] so we expect a tough game."

Suspensions rather than injuries are giving Basel coach Murat Yakin a headache ahead of the White Hart Lane showdown, with full-backs Park Joo Ho and Philipp Degen banned along with midfielder Marcelo Díaz. "I'm not happy with the situation as they have played well over the season," said the 38-year-old. "But it is a long campaign and you pick up injuries and suspensions. We have good replacements and we believe in them. It is a chance to see what they can do."

The former Swiss international, who is sweating on the fitness of Cabral, is also relishing tackling another vaunted opponent, having beaten FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and FC Zenit St Petersburg in the knockout stage so far. "Spurs are very strong but that is what the Europa League is about," he said. "They are favourites but we are in the quarter-finals and we want to get further. We know their strength at home. It will be a great challenge but we will compete. Our role is not just defensive – we need an away goal."