Spurs boss hopes to be picking from seven centre-backs in the new year
HARRY Redknnapp hopes to have SEVEN centre-backs to choose from in the new year after welcoming Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate back onto the training pitch.
Both players have been on the long-term injury list with groin injuries, and club captain King has missed 13 games, while Woodgate has not appeared for 13 months.
Redknapp was recently boosted by the return of Michael Dawson after a three-month lay-off, while Younes Kaboul and Sebastien Bassong will also be available for the trip to Aston Villa on Boxing Day.
William Gallas will miss that match with a hamstring injury but could return against Newcastle two days later, and 23-year-old South Africa international Bongani Khumalo will arrive in January after a deal was struck with SuperSport United in October.
That could leave Redknapp with seven centre-backs - a roster which does not include Vedran Corluka, who plays in that position for Croatia and filled in in the centre for Spurs at West Ham in September.
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“We’re very strong now at centre-half. I’ve got lots of strong central defenders,” said Redknapp. “You need them all, you pick up injuries, but we’ve got good options now.
“Kaboul’s back and he was in good form before he got injured, but Bassong’s come in and done a good job. Dawson came back last week and was fantastic and William Gallas has been in great form - his hamstring is not as bad as we feared. We’ve got options everywhere so we’re fine.
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“Ledley’s training - if he doesn’t need an operation he could be back soon - which would be great news for us because he’s a fantastic player, and to see Woody [Woodgate] out there as well is fantastic for him and for the club. It’s the first time in a long time that there’s a bit of light at the end of the tunnel for him.
“We’ve got players coming back, getting fit and that’s important for us. When everybody’s fit and ready we’re strong, we feel we’ve got a chance with anybody.”
Further up the field, Redknapp has all four of his strikers available for the busy Christmas period, and Rafael Van der Vaart has also left Tottenham’s treatment room and will be fit to face Villa on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Jamie O’Hara should be back in training in January after a long-term back injury, having last appeared in the FA Cup Final during his loan spell with Portsmouth.
Redknapp concedes that the midfielder will probably be loaned out to another Premier League side when he is fully fit, and the Spurs boss admits that O’Hara will probably not be the only player to leave the Lane in the upcoming transfer window.
“There are one or two players who are not playing who probably would like to move on. They want to play, they don’t want to be sitting around all week not playing football, so we’ll have to see if we get any offers for anybody and take it from there,” said the manager.
“Jamie needs to play. He’s missed half a year, half the season, and hopefully he’ll be ready in a week or two to start to play again, and he’d be better off going out to play somewhere rather than sitting around.
“There’s lots of competition here and he’d be better off playing somewhere. He’d do a great job for somebody in the Premier League, that’s for sure.”