New Tottenham fears as King is forced to go it alone
Thursday 14 February 2008
The good news, according to Juande Ramos, was that Ledley King travelled with the rest of the Tottenham Hotspur squad yesterday ahead of tonight's Uefa Cup tie away to Slavia Prague. The bad news was that, once again, the captain wasn't fit to train with the other players.
Instead King was holed up in the hotel gym as Ramos's squad trotted in the tumbling temperatures of the Strahov stadium. It isn't an unusual state of affairs for King to train on his own given the debilitated state of his knees which he has to now nurse through the rest of his career.
However, Spurs' plans to consider playing him against the Czech leaders have taken a jolt. It would have been his first appearance in three weeks, and probably his last before the Carling Cup Final a week on Sunday. "The match will take place in 10 days' time so it is quite a long time," the Spurs head coach said when asked if King will feature. "I cannot say if he will play. I will decide on his knee and the progress of his injury."
The problem for King who has missed so much of the past couple of years is that the area around the joint swells up after he plays meaning, at present, he has to rest. It's frustrating for him and for Spurs, who are also missing the injured Michael Dawson and the ineligible Alan Hutton, although Ramos was calm, as ever, yesterday on another vexed subject – that of Paul Robinson and his future.
Radek Cerny will continue in goal and given he is a former Slavia player there was extra focus on him. He politely batted off invitations to claim that he is the club's number one while Ramos blandly asserted that players are chosen on a match-by-match basis.
A little more insight was offered by another Spurs player, and another former Slavia one at that. Tomas Pekhart, an 18-year-old striker, in an interview with the Czech newspaper Sport, claimed that a rift existed between Robinson and Ramos. "Robinson gives the impression of being a very angry man," Pekhart claimed. "When Ramos put him on the bench for the first time, he did not even go to the warm-up which made the coach even more angry."
Spurs should certainly have enough to see off Slavia who dropped into the Uefa Cup after finishing third in the Champions League. However they have not played competitively since mid-December.
Slavia Prague (probable, 4-2-3-1): Vaniak; Drizdal, Brabec, Latka, Hubacek; Suchy, Tavares; Jarolim, J Cerny, Pudil; Strihavka.
Tottenham Hotspur (probable, 4-4-2): R Cerny; Chimbonda, Woodgate, Kaboul, Lee; Lennon, Huddlestone, Jenas, Malbranque; Keane, Berbatov.
Referee: C Circhetta (Switzerland).
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