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Villas-Boas wants to shut out Inter

Andre Villas-Boas has challenged his Tottenham Hotspur side to keep a clean sheet against Inter Milan in the Europa League on Thursday.

The north London outfit head into the match on the back of a string of impressive results – most recently a 2-1 derby victory over local rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

And Villas-Boas wants his players to stop the “biggest team” left in the competition from scoring in the round-of-16 first leg at White Hart Lane.

“It’s a big game and an important week for the club, we’ve had some big games and we want to continue doing well,” Villas-Boas told reporters.

“We will treat it as seriously as we have done before. We probably face the biggest team involved in the last 16.

“They are rebuilding their squad. They have invested in young players and are a club in change. But they’re involved in three competitions. The Europa League means a lot to them as it does to us.

“Inter are very experienced in Europe, we need to be aware of their strengths & they will need to be aware of ours.

“We don’t want to concede, we want to avoid that and take an advantage to Milan. We want to be as good as we have been.

Villas-Boas said his players are relishing the chance to test their skills against the Serie A giants, and confirmed midfielder Mousa Dembele will be fit to feature.

“The match comes at a good time for us. It shows the importance of the competition,” he said.

“The players are buzzing to be involved, it’s a great match to be involved in.

“Mousa is okay, Ade (Emmanuel Adebayor) is in with a chance too. The rest is the same.”

Tottenham centre-forward Jermaine Defoe has hailed Villas-Boas impact on morale within the squad since the coach’s arrival at the club.

“I’ve been here for many years now and in my opinion, in terms of team spirit I think it’s the best it’s been,” he said.

“Everyone’s buzzing, buzzing around the training ground, everyone’s putting the work in and even the players who are injured are putting the effort in to get back and there’s just that winning mentality that I think we’ve got now.

“In games when things aren’t going great everyone gets stuck in and just keeps going and it’s a good thing to have and it’s important to have that.”

Wed 6 March, 2013
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