Redknapp: Gallas is my first choice at Spurs - and he deserves more credit

HARRY Redknapp has revealed that former Arsenal captain William Gallas is now his first-choice centre-back at Tottenham.

And the Spurs boss believes that the 33-year-old Frenchman’s controversial move from the Gunners means he is still not getting the credit he deserves at White Hart Lane.

Michael Dawson has grabbed most of the attention in the rearguard since his return from a three-month layoff last month, starting all seven games since reappearing for the 1-1 draw with Chelsea.

Spurs have kept four clean sheets since Dawson’s return, having earned just one shut-out in the previous 21 games during his absence.

However, when invited to comment on the England international’s importance, Redknapp was quick to turn the spotlight upon Gallas, and highlight the Frenchman’s contribution this season.

“We shipped a few goals when Michael was playing before as well - he did play when we went to Young Boys of Bern [and lost 3-2],” said Redknapp.

“Listen, I love Michael, he’s been fantastic. I think the centre-halves have been fantastic, and William Gallas has been absolutely amazing.

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“For me he’s just been completely different class, and I think people don’t like to give him the credit. They find it hard to say ‘William’s done great’, but he has done great. I think he’s fantastic and at the moment it’s a question of who plays with William. He’s one of my top two right now.”

Critics will point out that Gallas was on the field when Spurs conceded four goals inside 35 minutes at the San Siro, while he also played throughout the 4-2 defeat at Bolton two weeks later.

However, Redknapp believes that the ex-Gunners skipper has done more than enough to earn the favour of the Tottenham faithful.

And the Lilywhites manager is still baffled by the initial animosity towards Gallas, who has started 18 games since his arrival in August, and will earn another one-year contract with Spurs if he starts more than 30 matches this campaign.

“If he’d been the Yorkshire Ripper I think the fans would have liked him better. I know he really committed some crimes and it was terrible, but they’ve sort of forgiven him for all that now,” said Redknapp sarcastically.

“He was incredible against Inter Milan when we beat them here, and when we went and beat Arsenal he was the best player on the pitch. I think he’s been absolutely brilliant.”

While Redknapp has been thrilled with Gallas’ form, the Spurs boss has confirmed that Ledley King has suffered a major setback in his recovery from a groin injury and is now back at square one.

The club captain has not played since October and has already missed 19 games, but Redknapp is confident that he has plenty of cover for his absent skipper.

“It won’t really change my plans in the transfer window, we’re strong at centre-half,” he said. “Even Jonathan Woodgate is back training, and he looks amazing given that he’s been out for so long.

“He’s nowhere near ready to play for us again but it’s good to see him back. We’re fine in that position, we’ve got Gallas, Dawson, Younes Kaboul, Sebastien Bassong, so it’s not a problem.”

Indeed, having played Gallas and Dawson in the goalless draw against Manchester United on Sunday and named Bassong on the bench, there was no room in the squad for Kaboul.

The Frenchman started the victories over Aston Villa and Newcastle over Christmas and looked set for a run in the side but angered Redknapp with his “stupid” dismissal against the Magpies at White Hart Lane on December 28.

The 25-year-old has since served his suspension but now faces a struggle to regain his manager’s favour, and even earn a place among the substitutes when Spurs face Newcastle again at St James’ Park on Saturday.