An unlikely beneficiary following Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s injury has been Steven Caulker. After BAE’s problems forced him onto the sidelines, AVB first used Kyle Naughton and then Gareth Bale at left back before Jan Vertonghen slotted in and looked as if he’d been playing there for his entire career.
Villas-Boas could have chosen to bring in Michael Dawson to cover the space left by Jan but decided to slot in 20 year old Caulker instead and it looks now as if the England under 21 international is going to be hard to dislodge.
The player himself seems happier under the new regime and grateful that AVB has given him the chance.
“You want to know that if you are playing well and you are training well you will be in the team,” Caulker said.
“It’s not nice when there are favourites, I think AVB has brought that into the team and I am happy.
“The manager has come in, he’s brought a few youngsters in, myself included, and he has pushed a few of us forward. When I came back he said I was in his plans, so I have to trust that and be patient and so far it has worked well.”
There has already been talk of Jan Vertonghen staying on the left, even when BAE returns to full fitness. That could leave Steven with a run in the team – at least until Younes Kaboul makes his own comeback – but with William Gallas edging closer towards retirement, there does seem to be a logical space in the side for Caulker to make his own on a long term basis.