London – Tim Sherwood will continue his crash-course introduction to management as he attempts to ensure Tottenham avoid another home disappointment when Stoke visit White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Sherwood marked his first game since agreeing an 18-month contract to succeed Andre Villas-Boas as Tottenham boss with a frustrating draw against struggling West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day.
That extended Spurs' poor run of form on home turf where they have failed to win in four Premier League and exited the League Cup at the hands of West Ham.
Tottenham's continuing inconsistency has left them five points adrift of the Premier League's top four going into the next round of matches and midfielder Lewis Holtby admits anything other than victory over Mark Hughes' Stoke side will be a major blow to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
“We have to win this game against Stoke because it's vital we stay up near the top with the European places,” Holtby said.
“It was a very disappointing result at home against West Brom. Everyone wanted the win, we needed the win but in the Christmas period there's no time for feeling sorry for ourselves.
“We have to be up for it, we have to be mentally right.”
It is Sherwood's job to ensure his team bounces back and after overseeing a win, loss and a draw in his three games since first taking caretaker charge, he is learning quickly about the ups and downs of the job.
The former Spurs midfielder admits chairman Daniel Levy has taken a chance in appointing but is convinced he will rise to the challenge.
“It's a gamble because I've never done it before,” Sherwood said. “But there are a lot of good managers who had never done it before and become a success.
“I was never a professional player until I stepped on the field.”
Sherwood hopes to welcome Aaron Lennon back into his squad after the winger missed the West Brom clash with a stomach strain, but Jermain Defoe and Mousa Dembele are rated doubtful.
Brazil midfielder Paulinho returns after suspension but right-back Kyle Walker serves a one-match ban.
Meanwhile, Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen is hoping to retain his place despite conceding five on his first Premier League appearance in 19 months at Newcastle.
Hughes' side - who were reduced to nine men by the dismissals of Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson - lost 5-1 at St James' Park after regular number one Asmir Begovic was ruled out for up to six weeks with a broken finger sustained on Christmas Day.
Stoke also have the option of England Under 21 goalkeeper Jack Butland after he returned from a loan spell at Barnsley.
“We knew straight away Asmir was struggling,” said Sorensen. “They did a light scan and they saw a break in there. He was really in pain. It will be three, four or five weeks.
“It wasn't the comeback I had imagined. We controlled the game and kept them to a minimum of chances while we created chances.
“But then two sendings-off at this level, away from home against a team with the amount of attacking flair they had it was going to be a long second half and so it proved.
“It was a bad loss, but under the circumstances I don't think there was much we could do.
“Spurs have obviously lost their manager and a new one in Tim Sherwood has come in who will have different ideas and play players in different positions.
“We will get home, recover from this one and then start focusing on Spurs.” – Sapa-AFP