Sherwood ready for Townsend return
Published 18/01/2014 | 13:42
Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood cannot wait to unleash Andros Townsend on terrified defenders once again.
Sherwood kept a watchful eye over Townsend's impressive development during his time with the youth squads, but the Spurs boss has been unable to call upon the winger since he was named head coach.
Townsend suffered a hamstring injury following Sherwood's first game as interim boss - the Capital One Cup defeat to West Ham - and he has found the comeback trail hard to negotiate.
The matches came thick and fast over the festive period, but the niggling strain would not go away.
The 22-year-old has been passed fit for Sunday's game at Swansea though after he came through a 45-minute run-out in the Under-21s on Tuesday.
Townsend scored one goal and set up two more in a 4-1 win over Newcastle, and Sherwood was happy with the wide man's contribution.
"Andros had a quiet one on Tuesday," Sherwood said with an ironic grin.
"We all know what he can do. He gives us a different dimension.
"He had a flying start to the season and we are happy to have him back in the squad."
Sherwood has had to deploy Christian Eriksen on the left wing in recent weeks because the natural replacements for Townsend - Erik Lamela and Gylfi Sigurdsson - have been struggling with injury.
Townsend's return should therefore give Spurs the natural width in midfield which is key to Sherwood's attacking philosophy.
Injury has decimated the Tottenham squad in recent weeks. As many as 10 first-team players have been out at one time during the festive period.
Of all the injuries suffered, the most key have been to Jan Vertonghen and Younes Kaboul.
The absence of the tall, quick and powerful centre-backs has meant that Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches have started the last six games at centre-back.
At first sight the two might not seem a natural pairing, but they have formed a decent partnership, conceding six goals.
"We picked up a lot of injuries in the centre-back position, which was a problem for us but Chiriches and Dawson have been fantastic over that Christmas period," Sherwood said.
"We've managed to get positive results with basically just those two to choose from."
In reality Sherwood has Hugo Lloris to thank for the team's decent defensive record of late.
The Frenchman started to lose form towards the end of Andre Villas-Boas' reign, but he has been back to his best.
Lloris' saves have helped Tottenham move to within two points of the top four, but the goalkeeper knows there is still much work to do if the north London club are to qualify for the Champions League.
"Our hopes for the season are still alive because we're getting points and we are closer to the top four, so we are still in a good way," Lloris told Spurs TV.
"But we have to be careful and if we want to finish where we want to be, we have to do more."
Swansea's own injury problems mean they have dropped down the table of late, with Michael Laudrup's men without a win in their last seven.
Swansea's home record is the joint-worst in the division, but Lloris has told his team-mates they cannot afford to underestimate the opposition.
He said: "It's always difficult to play against Swansea and we know they're capable of getting some good results against big teams.
"They play some really good football and if we are not focussed on the game and if we don't play at 100 per cent, it will be very difficult."