Spurs star Gareth Bale misses out as managers fret over soaked pitch
Spurs boss keeps star under wraps as rain threatens more disruption to Asia Trophy
Spurs star Gareth Bale will not play in the Barclays Asia Trophy today, as manager Andre Villas-Boas admitted his team wouldn't take part at all were it up to him.
Villas-Boas and his counterparts at Manchester City and Sunderland all expressed their concerns over the state of the Hong Kong Stadium pitch as the weather continued to dominate discussions ahead of the last day of the tournament.
With almost 48 hours of rain having fallen since a downpour on Wednesday turned the pitch into a quagmire, and more forecast, officials will make a pitch inspection at four o'clock this afternoon; with the final a 40,000 sell-out, however, there seems almost no chance of the tournament being called off.
"If I can be sincere, I preferred not to go ahead but this is the reality we have to face," said Villas-Boas, who was angry after the first day's play when his defender Jan Vertonghen slipped on the pitch and got injured.
"We are professionals and have to stand up for this wonderful tournament. But unfortunately conditions haven't helped us and it is our responsibility if the authorities decide to go ahead."
Villas-Boas insisted Bale was still nursing a slight muscle strain, but it seems likely he did not want to risk his best player.
With Real Madrid continuing to be linked with a huge bid for the winger, Villas-Boas said Spurs were in talks with his agent over a new contract.
"I don't think he can start in the match as he hasn't joined the team [training] yet," said Villas-Boas. " There is a possibility tomorrow he joins the team for the first time but full training will be back in London."
Spurs play South China in the third-place play-off while Sunderland take on Manchester City for the title.
City manager Manuel Pellegrini was also expecting difficult conditions for his first match against another Premier League side since he took over last month.
"We worked this morning with some trouble," said the Chilean. "But I don't know what will happen tomorrow since it is not depending on me but depending on the organisers.
"It is a difficult pitch but the other day we could play without any problem. We must be optimistic and will see tomorrow how it is."
Hong Kong FA chief Mark Sutcliffe said they would closely monitor the situation.
"We are trying to make this as close as possible to a Premier League match and therefore match-day arrangements will mirror a Premier League game.
"The referees will inspect the pitch and determine its playability. Player safety will be paramount. Everything possible is being done to get the pitch right. A team of people from the Premier League, clubs involved, stadium and the association has been working all day and will work all night if necessary."