Bentley has been 'a problem' at Tottenham

HARRY Redknapp admits that David Bentley's attitude has been 'a problem' over the last year, conceding that the midfielder hasn't deserved to play at Tottenham. Bentley, who joined Spurs for �15million in 2008, was exiled...

By Ben Pearce

HARRY Redknapp admits that David Bentley's attitude has been "a problem" over the last year, conceding that the midfielder hasn't deserved to play at Tottenham.

Bentley, who joined Spurs for �15million in 2008, was exiled after a costly goalline error gave Bolton Wanders a last-minute 3-2 victory at the Reebok Stadium last January.

The 25-year-old went on to make just one league start in the next 12 months, but has made a dramatic return to the first team because of an injury to Aaron Lennon.

Bentley is in line for a return to Bolton again this Sunday in the FA Cup fifth round, but Redknapp concedes that he has only recalled the midfielder as a last resort.

"Do his recent displays confirm how I've handled him? I wish I can say yes but it hasn't all been easy. He's been a problem and if Aaron hadn't got injured he probably wouldn't have played," said Redknapp.

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"I played Niko Kranjcar at first, because I didn't really feel at that time that he deserved to play in all honesty. I had Niko and Luka Modric as well, and I played Luka on the right. But I just felt they were both happier on the left, so I brought David back in.

"I suppose other managers probably wouldn't have had the patience that I've shown with him. Everyone's different and I don't bear grudges.

"When I came here there was a group that weren't with the first team. There were about eight players who were sort of isolated. I've never done that. I'm not into sending players off to train on their own or send them off with the youth team.

"Was I hard on David? Probably not that hard. If I'd been really hard on him then I probably would have isolated him.

"He knows he wasn't doing what he should have been doing. I spoke to him about the situation and he accepted that he wasn't right, his attitude wasn't right, but he was finding it hard to pull himself out of it at that time.

"I think it's like anything, when he wasn't playing his head probably went down. He saw no light at the end of the tunnel.

"When you come in every day and you're not playing it's difficult. He's not been used to that. He's been at Blackburn, where he was a big player, and he's found it difficult. He couldn't accept it really.

"It's easy for us all to say 'well, he gets paid to do this'. Fine, but I do understand how he was feeling. Now he's back playing and he's enjoying being in the team, but it's only four or five games. You hope he can keep his attitude right and that he keeps playing as he is."

In many ways it is a surprise that Bentley is still at Tottenham, and two transfer windows have passed since he was exiled from Spurs' first-team squad.

Last summer the midfielder claimed he was in talks with Aston Villa, but the move never materialised, and two months later he was charged with drink-driving and banned for a year.

Three months ago Redknapp had a touch-line row with the errant England international, slamming his work-rate and commitment during a reserve match against Grays Athletic.

Despite that, Bentley remained at White Hart Lane throughout the January window. And, having surprisingly been recalled to the starting line-up two weeks ago against Fulham, he scored a deflected free kick in a 2-0 win.

Then last week he received the man of the match award in the 3-1 win over Leeds at Elland Road, which set up this weekend's tie with Bolton.

"It's been a difficult time since I came here [to Spurs] and you can't help that when the team have been doing so well without you," said a chastened Bentley after that match.

"I just look forward to every game I play now and don't take it for granted. I go out there and enjoy myself.

"I just want to stay in the team and play as many games as I can. I am taking it game by game at the minute because you never know in football. My time at Spurs has been hard but hopefully I can start enjoying it now.