By Russell Stoddart
Tottenham legend Chris Waddle argues that resting Gareth Bale for the Europa League, a competition in which the winger has "come of age", would be "farcical".
The Welshman has already played 45 games for club and country this season and there could be 12 more in the remaining seven weeks if Spurs prolong their run in Europe.
Head coach Andre Villas-Boas has taken the Europa League seriously this season and is set to include Bale in the quarter-final first leg against Swiss side Basel at White Hart Lane on Thursday, despite a crucial league clash against top-four contenders Everton on Sunday.
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"In my opinion it would be farcical to want to rest him at this stage when he's done more than anyone else to get the club here.
"Bale is 23 years old. He isn't 38. I don't accept that he is prone to injuries because he's hardly missed a game over the past two seasons. When I was his age, the last thing I wanted to do was sit on the bench or in the stand watching my team play without me.
"If he knocks on the manager's door and asks to be left out, then fine, but if [Villas-Boas] doesn't get that knock, then he should always play him.
"I have a problem with players who want to be rested because it can lead to complacency. When I didn't play I was always worried the guy who took my place would play so well that he might hold on to it.
"There is a lot to be said for having a big squad and keeping everyone happy but there needs to be a balance and you don't leave out your best player unless you have to.
"Lionel Messi tweaked his hamstring [on Tuesday] against Paris Saint-Germain but until now he has never missed a game for Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo is always the first name on Real Madrid's teamsheet. Why should Spurs and Bale be any different?"
Waddle insists that all three of the English sides left in the Europa League have a chance of winning the competition but believes that Spurs are best placed to land the trophy.
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"Although they've got a big squad, they still have work to do to secure a top-four finish in the league and, of course, they've got Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final.
"They also face a tiring trip to Russia in the second leg and, after similar treks to Prague and Bucharest in the past few weeks, that's the last thing they needed just now.
"Tottenham are a good cup side and they have some momentum. Their form in getting to third in the league this year has been excellent and that scare they had in the second leg against Inter in the last round will make sure they don't take anything for granted.
"Just like Arsenal, it's time they picked up a piece of silverware and I think they are England's best hope in the Europa League this season.
"Another of my old clubs, Newcastle, have done fantastically well to get this far in the competition and now they are here, they will believe they can finish off the job even though they've got Benfica, probably the biggest threat to the English sides left in the competition.
"I don't think the Europa League is a distraction even though there is the threat of being sucked into a relegation battle.
"It has been such a long time [44 years] since Newcastle won a major trophy, it might be just the lift the club needs to get them back on their feet again."