Club Focus – Tottenham – Spurs hit hard by International break with change of formation looking likely

It has been an uplifting week for England fans with the national side winning their opening two group matches. However, it is time for supporters to turn their attentions back to domestic action after a two-week break. The international break tends to be a nervous time for club managers – who pray for the return of their star performers in the same condition that they left the club. It turned out that Harry Redknapp would not be getting two of his players back in the condition he expected.

Michael Dawson’s joy at earning his first competitive cap for England was soon soured by the injury he sustained in the second half of the 4-0 win over Bulgaria. The 26 year old fell awkwardly on his left knee, which has damaged his left medial knee ligament and his left ankle ligament. The injury is expected to keep the centre half out for up to eight weeks. The injury will hit Harry Redknapp hard due to the ongoing saga over fitness troubles with captain Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate. And the managers decision to sign former Arsenal defender, William Gallas, now looks like a shrewd piece of business by the 63 year old.

Redknapp’s injury concerns increased with the news that striker Jermain Defoe will also be on the sidelines for the next six weeks, with an ankle problem. The injury was picked up during England’s 3-1 win over Switzerland on Tuesday night. It is a huge blow for both player and club after the striker was just finding his stride for the season – having scored a hat trick against Bulgaria. Redknapp does have the luxury of having three fit strikers, who will hopefully fill the gap left by the absence of Defoe.

It is going to be interesting to see how if the injury to Defoe will have any effect on Tottenham’s formation in the coming weeks. Redknapp has been a fan of big and small in attack, pairing Peter Crouch and Defoe on many occasions. Spurs only league victory this season came away at Stoke, employing a 4-5-1 system with Crouch playing as the lone striker. The signing of Rafael Van der Vaart may also encourage the Tottenham manager to go back to the system used at the Britannia Stadium – to favour the Dutchman’s favoured position. The Dutch international was used in many positions during his time at Real Madrid. He has been used as a left-winger, central midfielder, but the role that suited him best was when he played just behind the centre forward. This could work for Redknapp who could deploy Luka Modric and Tom Huddlestone in deeper central midfield roles or he has the option of Wilson Palacios. As to whether he would like to apply Modric so deep is another matter, but with so many teams following suit and playing with five midfielders – Redknapp might just give it a go.

Tottenham’s fixture away at West Brom is already deemed as a must win as the side look to push up the table. It feels like a lifetime ago that Spurs suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Wigan, just under a fortnight ago. However, Redknapp will be looking to get his team back on track with a good performance and potentially three much needed points. The game at The Hawthorns is soon followed by Tottenham’s debut in this season Champions League. The North London club travel to Germany on Wednesday evening where they will meet tough opposition in Werder Bremen. A draw or anything better would be a good start to the group stage for Spurs who will look to the home ties as the must win games. A lot of impetus will be on Redknapp’s players to see how they cope with the demands of two games a week, and a possible rotation policy. Players will have to come to terms quickly with the fact that sometimes they will have sit on the bench to help the club succeed. Success will come from a good squad and not from a few individuals. Players will have to pull their weight this season in the conquest for further glory.

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