Soccer-Goals arrive for Soldado but Spurs place not guaranteed

LONDON, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Roberto Soldado reminded Tottenham Hotspur fans why the club paid 26 million pounds ($42.45 million) for him with a hat-trick on Thursday, but the Spanish striker could still find himself back on the bench for Sunday's clash with Liverpool.

The goals have not exactly flowed for the Soldado since his move from Valencia in August and his headed opener against Russian Anzi Makhachkala in the Europa League was his first goal from open play in front of the home fans.

Soldado now has nine goals for Tottenham in all competitions, although five of those have come in the Europa League against mediocre opposition.

His last Premier League goal was in October when he tucked away a penalty in the 1-0 home win over Hull City.

Soldado has been dropped in favour of England striker Jermain Defoe in Tottenham's last two league games, both away wins, and manager Andre Villas-Boas hinted he may make way against Liverpool on Sunday.

"We have to think about it," Villas-Boas, whose system does not suit two similar strikers, said.

"It's a bit premature. We always wanted to give this game to Roberto after two games in a row for Jermain Defoe."

"Jermain was deserving of his chance as well. Now it's about putting the best possible strategy of the game and seeing what we can do."

A product of the Real Madrid academy, Soldado was a prolific scorer in La Liga, netting 59 goals for Valencia having moved from Getafe in 2010.

A goal poacher supreme who thrives off incisive passes around the area, Soldado has looked a forlorn figure at times as Villas-Boas seeks the right blend to maximise his attributes.

Villas-Boas said Thursday's hat-trick could be just the tonic Soldado needs.

"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," the Portuguese said. ($1 = 0.6125 British pounds) (Reporting by Martyn Herman. Editing by Patrick Johnston)