Palacious displays have helped heave Spurs clear of danger zone

BY PAT MOONEY ARSENAL S loss has been Tottenham s gain in the case of combative midfielder Wilson Palacios. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger passed on signing the Honduran international when he arrived for a trial in England in the summer of 2007. Instead, Weng


ARSENAL'S loss has been Tottenham's gain in the case of combative midfielder Wilson Palacios.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger passed on signing the Honduran international when he arrived for a trial in England in the summer of 2007.

Instead, Wenger recommended Palacios to Wigan boss Steve Bruce, who took him first to Birmingham City on loan and then to Wigan.

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Last year, the 24-year-old took the Premier League by storm with his tenacious midfield performances at the JJB Stadium and it was enough to persuade Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp to pay �14million for him in the January transfer window.

Since then, Palacios has been ever-present in the Spurs midfield and his box-to-box displays, combined with his impressive tackling, have helped the Lilywhites pull clear of the relegation battle.

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"I'm extremely happy to have signed for Tottenham," Palacios told Wood&Vale Sport.

"I've had a fantastic welcome so far from all my new team-mates and now it is all about playing. This a new beginning for me. I've come to a new club, a big club.

"Everyone knows that Tottenham is a big club and when you play you want to get the chance to play on a big stage at a big outfit.

"I've just got to carry on working as hard as I did at my last club, try to play as well as I did there and I hope that I continue to take that form into my time at Tottenham."

Tottenham go into tomorrow's clash at Blackburn Rovers 11th in the table and Palacios has no doubts that the Lilywhites will finish the season strongly.

"I know how good Spurs are the quality of players we have here," he said.

"Everyone knows the club should not have been where they were in the table.

"The aim is to get us back into the top half of the table, to get more points and enjoy the rest of the season. Now it is up to me and my team-mates to get us up to a better position."

Yet, Palacios's achievement of establishing himself as one of the Premier League top midfielders is even more remarkable with the knowledge that his younger brother, Edwin, is still being held by kidnappers.

The youngest of five boys, Edwin, was seized from the family home in Honduras in October 2007. And despite the payment of the �125,000 ransom, Edwin has still not been freed.

"The situation we are going through is very difficult," he said. "But the only way to get through it is to concentrate on football.

"We don't know what is happening but we are confident that, with the help of God, it will come to a positive conclusion.

"I speak to my mum every day about it. I'm not even sure my brother knows I have joined Tottenham."

During the international break, Palacios, who has close to 60 international caps, has been back with his Honduras team-mates for a World Cup qualifier. He played the full 90 minutes for Honduras in their 1-1 draw against Trinidad &Tobago in the North, Central America and Caribbean qualifying group over the weekend.

Recalling his brief time at Arsenal, Palacios says he took his rejection calmly and accepted it.

"The trial went OK but they had a surplus of midfielders at the time," he said. "So, they recommended me to Steve Bruce, who was at Birmingham at the time.

"Their players were all really friendly there, especially Phillipe Senderos and Cesc Fabregas who went out of their way to look after me.

"I've still got an Arsenal shirt from then but it never had a name on it."

Now, it is Palacios's Tottenham No 12 shirt that is rapidly becoming a collector's item for opposition midfielders - both for club and country.


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