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Warrior Adebayor ready to face Arsenal in FA Cup say Spurs

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Tottenham Hotspur's Emmanuel Adebayor celebrates his goal against Southampton during their English Premier League soccer match at St Mary's stadium in Southampton
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Tottenham Hotspur's Emmanuel Adebayor celebrates his goal against Southampton during their English …

By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Emmanuel Adebayor, who was carried off on a stretcher during Tottenham Hotspur's 2-1 win at Manchester United on New Year's Day, is fit and will start against his former club Arsenal in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.

That was not the only good news for Spurs on the injury front as Jermain Defoe, Andros Townsend and Lewis Holtby were all back in training on Friday after being sidelined with various ailments.

"How important will Adebayor be tomorrow? It's huge," said Tottenham's new manager Tim Sherwood, who has revitalised the side since taking over from the sacked Andre Villas-Boas last month.

"I think if Arsene Wenger saw him limping off at Old Trafford, I'm sure there were a lot of pleased Arsenal fans and management and players.

"But, unfortunately, he's going to be walking out against them tomorrow.

"It didn't look great did it when he came off on that stretcher but he is a warrior. There is no holding him back at the moment."

The fact Adebayor will play, having recovered from "various cramps", is a big boost for Spurs after the 29-year-old Togolese has scored four goals in the five matches he has played since his return.

Last season at Arsenal he scored twice to give Spurs the lead and was then sent off seven minutes later as the Gunners exploited his absence to end up 5-2 winners in a league match.

Meanwhile, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger offered some grudging praise for the Gunners' fiercest rivals, who they meet in the Cup for the first time since beating them 2-1 in the semi-finals in 2001.

"They won at Manchester United and they played very well, but Man United have been a bit more vulnerable at home this season and they took full advantage of that playing with good pace going forward," he said in his pre-match news conference.

ATTACKING INTENT

He added he had noticed a more attacking intent to Spurs' game since Sherwood took control.

"They are more adventurous. With (Roberto) Soldado and Adebayor, they have found a balance -- at the moment that suits the team well. They always looked dangerous at Man United and that's certainly the pair we will have to keep quiet."

With Adebayor set to play against his old club, Wenger is very concerned about the threat from the striker he signed from Monaco in 2006 who didn't play at all under Villas Boas this season.

"What is amazing for him is how fit he was when he came back -- how quickly he adapted to top-level competition again," he said.

"He's a player with special talent, I'm in a good position to know."

Arsenal are coping with a long injury list with strikers Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner set to miss the game along with midfielder Aaron Ramsey (thigh) and defender Kieran Gibbs (calf) while playmaker Mezut Ozil is battling for match fitness.

Form often counts for nothing in cup derbies, but both sides enter the match in good spirits with Arsenal top of the Premier League table and Spurs having taken 10 points from a possible 12 over the Christmas holiday period.

Arsenal have lost only once at home to Spurs in any match since 1993 and will be looking to follow up their 1-0 league win in September, which came after successive 5-2 home league wins over Spurs.

Both managers kept their cards close to their chests regarding players they might want to sign during the transfer window with Wenger saying they had not considered signing former Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov from Fulham, despite widespread media speculation.

(Adds dropped word in paragraph eight)

(Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by Mitch Phillips)

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