Spurs facing defensive crisis ahead of crunch Real clash
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is facing a defensive injury crisis ahead of Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg at Real Madrid, with four central defenders likely to miss the game.
Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Younes Kaboul are all definitely out and William Gallas is struggling to be fit.
King requires a second operation on a groin injury which has kept him out since October, while Gallas is still suffering from a knee injury picked up in training last month. Woodgate has played just 31 minutes of first-team football in 16 months and picked up a calf injury in a friendly with Barnet on Tuesday.
"We started the year with six central defenders -- now we have two," said Redknapp, who will be praying Spurs don't pick up any more injuries at Wigan tomorrow. "It looks like we are down to just Michael Dawson and Sebastien Bassong."
Gareth Bale's participation in Madrid also remains in doubt. The 21-year-old missed Wales' defeat by England with a hamstring strain. "Gareth worked with the coaches and looked okay," Redknapp said. "Whether he is okay to play two games in three days is doubtful."
The importance of the Champions League to Spurs -- and the need to qualify again this season -- is laid bare by their latest financial results. The club posted a £4.2m profit, compared to a £6.1m loss in 2009, largely thanks to revenue increasing 49pc in the final six months of last year with qualification for this season's Champions League the key factor.
But with that rise in revenue, £79.8m from £53.3m at the same stage last year, came increased operating costs, from £48.6m to £61.5m -- hence the desire to repeat the Champions League odyssey next season. Merchandise sales went up by 22pc and sponsorship and corporate hospitality revenue grew from £12.7m to £16m.
Real coach Jose Mourinho may have to make adjustments to his team for tomorrow's game at home to Sporting Gijon, as striker Karim Benzema and full-back Marcelo returned from international duty with injuries, and Xabi Alonso is suspended.
However, Gonzalo Higuain has resumed training and may make his return following back surgery at the start of the year. Emmanuel Adebayor is set to start.
Meanwhile, Barcelona were buoyed by the news that Lionel Messi should be fit to face Villarreal. Messi pulled out of Argentina's friendly against Costa Rica on Tuesday with a sore leg, but the damage is not serious. (© Independent News Service)