‘Amazing’ Hutton stakes his claim
The forgotten man of White Hart Lane reminded Tottenham Hotspur what he has to offer on Saturday.
Alan Hutton made his first appearance for Spurs since January 23 and showed, as manager Harry Redknapp said, that the club might have a right-sided mirror-image of Gareth Bale within their ranks.
The Scot's marauding run from right-back won the 77th-minute penalty from which Rafael van der Vaart cancelled out Steven Fletcher's opener and, after Roman Pavlyuchenko had given Spurs the lead, Hutton was in the visitors' 18-yard box again to score his first goal in English football after a dreadful mix-up in the Wolves defence.
Yet Hutton began the game on the bench and owed his presence on the field to two injuries. Vedran Corluka had a tight back, and Younes Kaboul suffered a hamstring problem as Wolves took the lead after 44 minutes.
What Hutton did in the next 46 was of high quality, but it is injury and inconsistency rather than ability that have restricted him to only 20 Premier League starts for Spurs since Juande Ramos signed him from Rangers for £9m in January 2008.
He spent the second half of last season on loan to Sunderland, who wanted to make the deal permanent, but Redknapp was not tempted by their offer.
"He wasn't one I was keen to get rid of," said the Spurs manager. "There is a player there, a real player. He gives you a Gareth Bale, if you like, on the other side -- someone who can get forward and cause people problems.
"If you wanted to play with three centre-halves, with him and Bale as wing-backs, you would have two amazing attacking full-backs, up there with (Glen) Johnson and Ashley Cole. It's something that interests me, something I might do at times."
Hutton's contribution was a reminder of the depth as well as the strength of the squad that Redknapp now has at his disposal.
Van der Vaart, the most recent addition, hinted at good things to come, the highlight of his display being a dipping volley that forced one of a number of excellent saves from Wolves 'keeper Marcus Hahnemann.
The trick for Redknapp will be to accommodate the Dutchman alongside Luka Modric, or to explain to one of them why he is on the bench, which is the price of managing at Champions League level.
With 13 yellow cards and one red in their previous two matches, some had been expecting desperate measures in the Wolves rearguard, but they seldom overstepped the mark.
"I can't help the media storm about us being a dirty team," said manager Mick McCarthy. "I can't do anything to change it except keep playing the way we've been playing -- compete, pass the ball, play fairly.
"There were a couple of games when we got a lot of bookings. FIFA and UEFA would like to take all that competitiveness out of football and we'll all have a nice tippy-tappy game and nobody will come and watch it." (© Independent News Service)