Harry Redknapp admits Rafael van der Vaart was disappointed not to start Tottenham Hotspur's win over Bolton Wanderers, but he is determined to protect the playmaker.
Van der Vaart has been hampered by a hamstring problem for much of the season and sat out last month's 3-1 victory at West Bromwich Albion.
Redknapp opted to retain Jermain Defoe as Emmanuel Adebayor's strike partner for Saturday's 3-0 home success over Bolton, with Van der Vaart appearing as a second-half substitute.
The Spurs boss acknowledged that the Netherlands international was upset to start the game on the bench, but understood his decision to keep Defoe in the team.
And, due to Van der Vaart's ongoing hamstring troubles, Redknapp is reluctant to risk losing the 28-year-old for several weeks as Spurs attempt to mount a Premier League title tilt.
"He's disappointed, obviously, but he took it okay," said Redknapp.
"It was a hard decision. I just felt the little man (Defoe) is on fire so I stuck with him.
"I like Rafa, he's a great player, a good pro, but he keeps getting hamstrings.
"You've just got to be careful he doesn't tear it and we lose him for six weeks."