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Tottenham optimistic Rafael van der Vaart could return from injury earlier than expected but Younes Kaboul ruled out for two weeks

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Rafael van der Vaart could return to action earlier than expected despite tearing a hamstring during Tottenham’s victory over Liverpool, UK can reveal.

The Dutch playmaker had a scan on Tuesday on his hamstring, an injury which would typically rule a player out for three to four weeks.

But Spurs are hopeful that the injury is less serious than initially feared. They have not set a date on van der Vaart’s return and will continue to monitor his progress.

Although he will almost certainly miss Saturday’s Premier League trip to Birmingham and next Tuesday’s Champions League tie against FC Twente, the club are not discounting the possibility he could return for the mouth-watering derby clash against Chelsea on Sunday week.

The inspirational summer signing, who has scored eight goals in 14 matches since moving to White Hart Lane from Real Madrid, has picked up a series of minor injuries.

He had missed Tottenham’s previous match against Werder Bremen with an ankle knock and was hindered by a hamstring strain in early November.

Meanwhile, Younes Kaboul, who also limped off in the first half of the Liverpool win last Sunday, has been ruled out for a fortnight with a hip injury.

Kaboul, who has formed an increasingly impressive partnership with William Gallas in the Spurs defence, will miss the Birmingham, Twente and Chelsea matches.

The French defender joins Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate on the sidelines but manager Harry Redknapp will be heartened that Michael Dawson is edging closer to a first-team return after three months out with a knee injury.

Dawson was due to take part in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Charlton on Tuesday but it was postponed because of the big freeze.

Nevertheless, the England international could be named in the squad for Saturday’s game alongside the only two fit centre-backs, Gallas and Sebastien Bassong.

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