As AVB slowly builds his title winning (!) squad, new players have been introduced and others have been thanked and asked to leave but whilst most of the rest are safe and established and pretty sure they know where they stand, there’s another group that will be feeling more than slightly uncertain about what the future holds.
They’ll be turning up for training with a flutter in their stomachs hoping their nerves don’t show as they search for an extra comforting and confidence-inducing glance from the management. At their age they should’ve moved by now from promising to probable, from potential to realisation but, and perhaps due to no fault of their own, they’ve not yet produced the goods expected of them. They know though in their heart of hearts that they’re running out of excuses and this season might well be crucial.
Here’s a closer look at a couple of these players with more to follow.
It’s a big season for….. Younes Kaboul.
A man mountain apparently made of glass. In his second spell at White Hart Lane he has made just 74 appearances in three and a half seasons. As a comparison, Aaron Lennon has made 80 in just the last three campaigns and he’s no Tony Stark. His knees have been the big man’s weak spot over the years with last season’s injury against Newcastle probably the worst he’s had to come back from.
Tall, strong, athletic and pacy Kaboul should be one of our biggest assets but so far the jury has to remain out. There are those who suspect that he may not be first choice for AVB even if he’s fit – his lapses in concentration won’t improve our defending at corners and it may be that he’s not mobile enough to cope with the constant turning and chasing of balls played through our high pressing front six that has been a feature of our preseason so far.
This year his biggest goal must be to remain fit. Whatever’s needed in terms of extra physio, Ledley like solitary treatment and training sessions, warming up or warming down he should be first in the queue. If he does this and can be taught to remain aware from first to last and thus cement a place in the side he’ll have done well. If he has another stop start season due to yet another injury then, given that he’s 27 years old, it might be time to consider severing our ties.
It’s a big season for….. Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
Our maverick left back is beloved by most Spurs fans with much of the remainder of the football world bemused by him. He scored the first home goal of the AVB reign but then was forced out by injury whilst several square pegs, in the form of Naughton and Vertonghen, replaced him.
His position was a problem all season, not helped by the lack of a settled option in front of him. Benny should’ve been comfortably our first choice left sided defender but AVB showed a clear lack of trust in him. This season he’s not only likely to be pressured by Naughton and the Vertonghen option but also Danny Rose who won plaudits in the position at Sunderland last season and Zeke Fryers who has been given a lot of game time in preseason.
At 29 and with nearly 200 Spurs appearances behind him BAE should be firmly established as the number one choice. What happens to Bale maybe key but even if he ends up with a more orthodox winger in front of him, he’s going to have to improve his concentration and decision making to successfully see off the pretenders and get back in Villas-Boas’s good books.
Two more players with something to prove coming up soon.
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