sport

Changes pay off for Warnock

Leeds manager Neil Warnock felt vindicated for two key selection decisions he made prior to Sunday's surprise FA Cup win over Tottenham.

Warnock opted to leave leading goalscorer Luciano Becchio out of his squad following the Argentinian's transfer request last week and handed Luke Varney a rare start up front in Leeds' 2-1 victory.

The 64-year-old, who orchestrated Capital One Cup wins over Everton and Southampton earlier this season, also gave Michael Brown extra responsibility by installing the combative midfielder as skipper against his former club.

Varney, a free summer signing following his release from Portsmouth and often the target of abuse from a frustrated Elland Road crowd this season, showed admirable composure to give Leeds a 15th-minute lead, while Brown rolled back the years to upstage England international Scott Parker.

"I thought the two centre-halves, goalkeeper, the midfield and Michael Brown (were excellent) - apart from that late free-kick, if they had equalised from that I'd have crucified him," said Warnock, whose side have been rewarded with a trip to Manchester City in the fifth round.

"Other than that I thought he was superb."

Ross McCormack slammed home a fine second goal for Leeds five minutes into the second half and although Clint Dempsey's glancing header reduced the deficit soon after, Warnock's side deservedly claimed a third Barclays Premier League scalp.

It was only Varney's second goal in 20 appearances for Leeds, most of which have been as substitute.

"He had so much time didn't he?" Warnock added.

"To play Luke, who does get a little bit of stick from the home crowd, instead of Becchio was a difficult one.

"But when he scored like that, it really helps a manager in your decisions.

"We've got some good players. We haven't got a massive squad, but when we play like that it makes me really proud to be the manager."

Warnock, who confirmed the club had turned down two offers from overseas for Becchio, is hoping to make two or three new signings before Thursday's transfer deadline and added the 19-goal forward would only be sold if he could find a suitable replacement.

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas admitted the injury sustained by Jermain Defoe in training, coupled with the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor, on African Nations Cup duty with Togo, had left his side short of options up front.

But Villas-Boas insisted he would not be looking to draft in cover.

"I don't think so," he said. When asked whether any of his players would be leaving White Hart Lane this week, Villas-Boas added: "Maybe, but I think we need to keep it as it is."

The Portuguese acknowledged his decision not to bring in a replacement for Adebayor had been a gamble.

"It's something we've discussed at length and in press conferences," he said. "We are happy with the options we have. We understand an injury can put us in a difficult position.

"Obviously Adebayor is at the African Nations. He's already missed a couple of games, but we have to see how well he progresses in the competition and then have him back.

"I think at the moment, as I've told you before, we are comfortable. It's obviously a risk that we're willing to take.

"It wasn't because we missed a lot of attacking opportunities against Leeds that we missed a striker, it was just that we couldn't create as many clear-cut chances."

Tottenham's central defenders Jan Vertonghen and Steven Caulker, paired together for the first time since last month's goalless home draw with Stoke seven games ago, have come in for criticism for both Leeds' goals.

"These are reflections we have to do within the group that I don't want to make public," Villas-Boas said. "This is part of our development."