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‘He’s been there, done it’ – Joe Hart hails Gareth Bale influence in trophy hunt

Manchester City v Real Madrid – UEFA Champions League – Semi-Final – First Leg – Etihad Stadium
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Tottenham goalkeeper Joe Hart has hailed Gareth Bale’s influence off the pitch, and insists there is more to come from the Wales international on it.

Bale’s return to north London has been underwhelming as injury and illness have curtailed his progress, but he played his first full 90 minutes as Spurs beat Wycombe 4-1 in the FA Cup fourth round on Monday night.

It was his first appearance since December 23 and he marked it with a goal against the Championship outfit, though could have walked away with the matchball had he not wasted several other good chances.

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The 31-year-old’s return to fitness could be timely for Spurs as they face a packed fixture list, challenging on all four fronts.

And as they aim to end their trophy drought, Hart says the on-loan Real Madrid forward’s experience in the dressing room will be important.

“We always knew it was going to be a project with him and he fully understands that,” Hart said of Bale’s difficult first half of the season.

“He’s here to help the team win and he’s demonstrated that on the pitch at Wycombe and on a few other occasions.

“He’s also doing it behind the scenes. Gaz’s obviously had his injuries but he knows how to look after himself and when he’s fit he’s going to help our team.

“He’s been there and done it. For a club trying to do things, I think it’s important to have guys that have been there and won and can reference what it takes.

Gareth Bale scored Tottenham's equaliser at Wycombe

Gareth Bale scored Tottenham’s equaliser at Wycombe (John Walton/PA)

“We talk about it a lot but we’re a team that wants to win. There’s two teams winning a lot – Man City and Liverpool – and there’s seven or eight of us trying to win.

“So we’ve got to find different ways of winning.”

Spurs needed three goals in the final five minutes to see off a plucky Wycombe side, playing their first game since a Covid outbreak.

Harry Winks and two from Tanguy Ndombele got Spurs over the line and ensured they avoided extra-time, which was important considering they play Liverpool on Thursday night.

Tottenham and Liverpool do battle again his week

Tottenham and Liverpool do battle again his week (Jon Super/PA)

It is a vital game for the title challenges of both clubs, coming six weeks after the reverse fixture, and Hart knows it can go either way.

“We feel the same as we did going into that last game,” he said.

“How the 90 minutes plays out depends on two quality teams against each other.

“We know we can win it and they know they can win it.”