Soldado not assured starting spot

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas would not give Roberto Soldado any assurances over his place in his starting line-up for Sunday's game against Liverpool after the striker scored a Europa League hat-trick on Thursday night.

Soldado was Tottenham's matchwinner as they thumped Anzhi Makhachkala 4-1 at White Hart Lane, maintaining their 100% winning record in the competition as they move into the knockout phase.

It was a crucial night for Soldado, who has struggled to make his mark at Spurs since his 26 million pound summer move from Valencia, and lost his place in Villas-Boas's line-up in recent away wins at Fulham and Sunderland.

With the Tottenham boss targetting the clash with Liverpool at White Hart Lane as pivotal to his side's hopes of securing a top-four finish this season, he admitted he has yet to make a decision on whether to start with Jermaine Defoe or Soldado on Sunday.

"We have to think about it," he stated. "It was extremely important for him [Soldado] to get back to scoring. I'm extremely happy for him. He's been waiting for a moment like this and it finally happened tonight with a hat-trick. It will be major boost for a player who has been very professional and deserve the respect.

"I don't think he lost his confidence but, as a striker, you have to persist and persist, finishing off the situations you are given and that final touch hasn't been there for him recently. It will be a great boost of confidence for him.

"It's a bit premature [to decide the team for the Liverpool game]. We always wanted to give this game to Roberto after two games in a row for Jermain, who was deserving his chance as well. Now it's about putting the best possible strategy of the game and seeing what we can do.

"What this will help is put the player back with confidence with his final touch and a striker always lives off goals so it's extremely important."

Villas-Boas could now face a clash with his former club FC Porto in the latter stages of the Europa League, but he was quick to insist such a prospect was not appealing.

"On a personal level I wouldn't like that," he added. "Our aim is to go all the way to the final and I wouldn't like that. I have tremendous gratitude to the club and I'm a great fan so hopefully that doesn't happen until the final."