Jerm Warfare!

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Maverick striker Paolo Di Canio may be missing with a knee ligament injury against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, but the Hammers' north London rivals won't be looking forward to an easy afternoon at White Hart Lane, with goal-hungry Jermain Defoe set to take the place of the influential Italian.

Di Canio's absence looks set to hand the England under-21 striker his first start since the 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa on March 2, and he will be determined to make the most of his opportunity.

That is the opinion of Tottenham defender and fellow England under-21 team-mate of Defoe, Anthony Gardner, who believes that his White Hart Lane colleagues will have to be fully concentrated to stop the 19-year-old.

"He's pretty quick and we're going to have to be on our toes and alert to him
if he starts on Saturday," says Gardner.

"Jermain is sharp, very sharp, he's been playing in and out really, but has made great progress since last season when he was on loan with Bournemouth.

"He's also been playing well for England under-21s and he'll be dangerous - I'll have to keep an eye on him."

Meanwhile, Hammers' assistant manager Paul Goddard says that Di Canio will hopefully be back sooner than was first feared

"It is unfortunate that he has picked up his injury, but it doesn't look as bad as we first thought, so hopefully he will be back sooner rather than later," says Sarge.

"When the squad isn't very big we sail close to the wind, and this is what we have been doing all season; every team gets injuries - and we have had our fair share."

And while most people will expect to see Defoe automatically step in against Spurs on Saturday, the Hammers management team are playing their cards a lot closer to their chest.

Says Goddard: "Everyone assumes that, don't they? We have been working on a few things in training and people will have to wait and see on Saturday!"