Former England and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Martin Peters has backed Harry Redknapp's decision to field an understrength side in this season's UEFA Cup last 32.
Manchester City face Hamburg on Thursday evening as the last English side flying the flag in the competition, with both Spurs and Aston Villa having crashed out after naming weakened teams with key domestic fixtures on the horizon.
Villa, bidding to upset the Big Four and seal Champions League qualification, lost 3-1 on aggregate to CSKA Moscow.
While Tottenham, decimated by injury, battling relegation and due to face Manchester United in the League Cup final at Wembley, bowed out to Shakhtar Donetsk by the same score-line. However, the 1966 World Cup winner says Redknapp was right to do what he did, given the circumstances.
“I think Harry felt it was the right thing to do," he exclusively told FourFourTwo.com. "He was under pressure with his side struggling in the league and didn’t want to lose any more players to injury. So he put out an innocent side. “And although they lost the first leg 2-0, they played quite well at home in the second leg, getting one goal back before they [Shakhtar] knocked one in late on. The tie wasn’t far off from going to extra-time and penalties. “The priority was to stay in the Premier League, that’s where the money is, and where the top players are. I think he was right to do what he did.”
And ahead of Thursday's quarter-final clash between Hamburg and Manchester City, ex-Spurs boss Martin Jol conceded that the UEFA Cup wasn’t high on his list of priorities until an unexpected win in the last round against Galatasaray sealed their place in the last eight.
“My chairman wants to win every game," he said.
"But I have to be honest and I said to him maybe it would be better if we went out of the UEFA Cup as we had so many games. It’s a big burden, but then we had a great win against Galatasaray and everything changed.”
Martin Peters MBE teamed up with Sony Ericsson, Official Mobile Handset of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, to host a VIP screening of England vs Ukraine.