Sunday, September 20, 2009

Spurs' Season Threatened By Defensive Crisis, Could Ledley King Be Finished?

A defensive crisis of biblical proportions is threatening to destroy all of Tottenham Hotspur's good early season work after Ledley King and Sebastian Bassong joined fellow centre halves, Johnathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson, on the sidelines.

Up until last weeks defeat to Manchester United, Spurs had got off to their best start to a season since 1961. Following that defeat with a loss to London rivals Chelsea has been compounded by the fact that Spurs finished the game without both centre halves after they were carried off injured.

The news that Ledley King has torn his hamstring and that new-signing Sebastian Bassong has concussion will be greeted through gritted teeth by Harry Redknapp who now faces a defensive crisis ahead of Spurs games with Preston and Burnley over the coming week.

Tottenham's main target is European football this season, and the importance of the Carling Cup cannot be stressed enough for the club who have got to the last two finals of the competition.

With a tough task ahead of them in the guise of Preston, Harry Redknapp must now make do without any of his four first team squad centre halves.

Ledley King's injury problems are well documented, King has a chronic knee problem and cannot train between matches. Spurs have hired a specialist personal trainer for the defender who maintains his strength and stamina through a specially designed workout involving weight training and swimming.

Harry Redknapp spoke about King's injury problems recently.
"There's no cure. There's no cartilage, nothing to operate on. It's just bone on bone. So it's just a question of managing it. It swells up after games and it normally takes seven days to recover but having played on Monday night he's had less time than usual.

"He rarely trains, he mostly just goes to the gym to keep himself ticking over. But not running or anything like that. But even if he only plays 20 games a season, he's worth having because he's so good we have a much better chance of winning."
With this type of training, King is prone to muscle strains, and he pulled his hamstring in the 3-0 defeat to Chelsea.

To make matters worse for Redknapp and Spurs, Bassong was stretchered off after a clash of heads, the player receiving oxygen before being taken to hospital where his injuries have been described as concussion.

What this means for Spurs is that both players will join Woodgate and Dawson on the sidelines through injury for the Preston game at least.

Dawson is not far away from full participation and Bassong is likely to be ruled out for a minimum of five days while Woodgate is still some distance away from even training.
Redknapp spoke after the Chelsea loss: "I've lost all four centre-backs - I've got none."
"Ledley has done his hamstring, he's the most fantastic person and player, and he's so important for us, but if you don't train you can't just go out and play without doing hamstrings, groins or calves.

"Bassong doesn't look too good, either. He got a bang on the head and his eye's all swollen up. It doesn't look too clever at all. I think the doctor has taken him to hospital with concussion."
The injury crisis will mean good news for Alan Hutton who is sure to fill in at right full as Vedran Corluka moves inside to partner Tom Huddlestone, who began his career at Derby playing centre half.

Recent signing from Sheffield United, Kyle Naughton, is also a contender for right full, but should take a place on the bench at the very least.

With Huddlestone likely to move back it would seem that Jermaine Jenas will partner Wilson Palacios while Niko Krankjaer should make his full debut on the left side of midfield.
Redknapp added: "Woodgate's nowhere near playing again. He went to see a specialist again yesterday and he just can't train.

"We haven't got to the bottom of the injury at all, what's causing him discomfort. Dawson has a chance, he's the one."
Redknapp then went onto say that King's removal from the game was pivotal to Chelsea's late dominance.
"At 1-0 down, with Ledley on the pitch, we were right in the game," added Redknapp, whose side have now lost their last two games after winning their first four matches of the season.
"Once we lost Ledley, we didn't have the power to deal with Drogba at the back.

"I said to (Spurs assistant boss) Kevin Bond as soon as Ledley went that I knew we couldn't handle him."
As sad as it sounds, Harry Redknapp and Spurs will now have to make a massive judgement call on Ledley Kings' future career at Spurs.

It is common knowledge that King can only play one game over a seven day period and that he cannot train with his team in between those games.

There is no doubting King's ability, but there comes a time in every players career where the club must decide if they are getting all they should from the player.

It is obvious to all that Spurs have problems dealing with set-pieces, this partly stems from King's inability to train with his team mates. Without that link that can only be grown on the training pitch, Spurs will continue to suffer.

King remains one of the highest paid stars at the club, as well as being one of the most respected.

However, King's future at the club would seem to be pre-determined that he would be available for at least 20 to 25 games a season. To reach even that total, King would have to avoid injury of any other kind.

With King on the sidelines for the next couple of weeks, Harry Redknapp will be trying to speed the recovery of Michael Dawson while getting Bassong back in action as soon as possible.

Corluka is barely trusted at right back and does not have the concentration or the strength needed to play centre half so the longer he plays at centre half, the more likely that Spurs results will go against them.

One thing to Redknapp's advantage is that Spurs have five very winnable games before they travel to the Emirates on October 31st.

They face Preston in the Carling Cup next week before they entertain Burnley at White Hart Lane next weekend, they then face Bolton, Portsmouth, and Stoke before they take on the Gunners.

With a full squad, Spurs and Redknapp would expect to take 10 points from those four games, with a depleted squad that figure could drop to 7 points which would most likely leave Spurs lagging behind Aston Villa and Manchester City for the Europa League positions.

How Spurs bounce back from their last two defeats will be a good indicator for the rest of the season, if Spurs are to do as well as their fans hope, they will need the walking wounded to return as soon as possible.

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