No Spurs season is complete without at least a couple of major injury crisis. The worst kind are the type which concentrate on a certain position, while leaving the rest of the squad intact. This results in at least one player floundering around as a square peg in a round hole, while a bunch of 19 year old youth players sit on the bench wondering when they’re ever going to get a game, if the manager won’t pick them even when down to the bare bones.
Such a scenario is likely to occur on Saturday in our vital FA Cup match against Fulham and it’s fairly self-inflicted. It always seemed folly to try to make it through the season with just three recognised central midfielders and now the inevitable has happened and two of them have got injured at the same time.
The only good news is that our remaining fit central midfielder is not Jenas, but Palacios. With O’Hara out on loan at Portsmouth (and cup-tied anyway), Harry will now have to shuffle his pack or give youth a chance alongside Wilson.
Against Everton we finished the match with Kaboul alongside Palacios in midfield, but with the big Frenchman cup-tied, we won’t have this option against Fulham. Neither will we be able to move Corluka from right back to the centre, as the only cover we have for him is the aforementioned cup-tied Kaboul and the equally cup-tied Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, the on-loan Alan Hutton and Kyle Naughton will be watching the game on television.
The obvious option is to play either Modric or Kranjcar with Palacios, but even this isn’t as simple as it first looks. Lennon is out for six weeks and Bentley missed the Everton game with injury, so we might well need Modders or Kranjcar to cover the right of midfield. At the risk of overusing the word ‘meanwhile’ – meanwhile, Kyle Naughton will be in action on Saturday for Middlesbrough away at Cardiff.
We could bring Rose in on the left, or even on the right if we want to say ‘to hell with it’ and play everyone out of position. If one of the Croatians is to partner Palacios, I’d prefer it to be Kranjcar. I just think that Modric is too physically weak to play there, although I suppose if he’d going to get away with it against anyone, then Fulham aren’t exactly bully boys in midfield.
Then there is Gareth Bale, who has been in brilliant form when marauding from left back. He could be pushed further forward on to the left of midfield, with Assou-Ekotto returning to the left of defence. Personally I think that Bale is at his most effective when attacking from a full back position and it will be easier to mark him if he’s pushed further forward, but it would be interesting to see him and BAE in tandem.
Finally there is the option that would leave me the most surprised, were Harry to take it up. We’ve some talented young central midfielders at the club such as John Bostock, Dean Parrett and Jake Livermore, who has returned from his loan to Peterborough. I’d expect them to be chosen as an option from the bench, rather than in the starting XI, but with Jenas and Huddlestone likely to be out for some time, one of these lads might get called upon eventually.
Whilst I could see some logic in the scrapping of our reserve team and giving our fringe players a chance on-loan, it’s at times like this that we have to question the decision. Reserve team football may not prepare a player for the Premier League in the manner of regular first team football elsewhere, but it at least stops players who are needed for cover, from growing incredibly bored and losing their match fitness.
Harry, it’s over to you.