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Newcastle United-Tottenham Hotspur Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - An eventful week for Harry Redknapp continues Saturday when Tottenham Hotspur welcome Newcastle United to White Hart Lane in a clash of Champions League hopefuls.
Redknapp was cleared Wednesday of tax evasion charges that the manager concealed $295,000 of transfer bonuses in a Monaco bank account while in charge of Portsmouth.
"It really has been a nightmare," said Redknapp, first arrested in 2007. "It's been five years and this is a case that should never have come to court because it's unbelievable, really."
Hours after Redknapp was acquitted, Fabio Capello quit as England manager just months before the European Championships. The charismatic Redknapp is a hot favourite to take over England.
"I've not even thought about it. I've got a job to do," Redknapp said. "I've got a big game on Saturday for Tottenham. Tottenham is my focus."
Bookmakers have named Redknapp the leading candidate to succeed Capello.
"Now that Harry has been proved innocent it makes a clear path should the FA wish ... to offer him the England manager's job," former England coach Graham Taylor said.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has ruled himself out as a candidate.
"Firstly as an Englishman, I am proud to be in that sort of frame, but it's not for me and I will make that quite clear," Pardew said. "I'm not even in the running as far as I'm concerned. I'm very, very happy here at Newcastle. We're on a little project here that's going really well and I want to see it through."
Pardew has backed Redknapp for the job.
"This time, I think there's an outstanding candidate in Harry and I just hope it works out, it can be done in a manner that works for both Tottenham and England," Pardew said.
Tottenham are in third place on 50 points while fifth-placed Newcastle have 42 - one behind Chelsea for the final Champions League spot.
"Spurs are playing some fantastic football," Pardew said. "They have in Gareth Bale perhaps the best player in the Premier League in terms of offensive ability. They make it very, very difficult for you, they retain the ball, Scotty Parker has improved them considerably. So it's a tough opposition."
These sides played a 2-2 draw at Sports Direct Arena on Oct. 16. Spurs have two wins and two draws in their last four league meetings after losing the previous six to the Magpies.
"I'm sure it will be a great game," former Newcastle man Parker told Tottenham's official website. "Newcastle are in good form, they are doing well and it will be tough.
"We're at home and we look forward to it. We're strong at home."
Spurs' run of scoring in 22 straight Premier League matches ended with Monday night's goalless draw at Anfield.
Newcastle welcomed Senagal strikers Demba Ba and newcomer Papiss Demba Cisse back to the squad from African Nations Cup duty for Sunday's 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
Ba scored his 16th Premier League goal - the most by a Newcastle player since Alan Shearer had 22 in 2003-04. Cisse, acquired from German side Freiburg, replaced an injured Leon Best in the 14th minute and scored the winner in his Magpies debut.
Updated February 9, 2012