Tottenham's injury problems have deepened to such an extent that Harry Redknapp, their manager, will be forced to pack his substitutes' bench with youth-team players for today's FA Cup quarter-final against Fulham.
Redknapp revealed yesterday that he has only 12 fit senior squad players available for the match at Craven Cottage. Jermain Defoe is the latest of his big-name players to succumb to injury, the England striker returning from international duty with hamstring problems, making him 50/50 to play today.
With Redknapp delivering a worrying assessment on the progress of England winger Aaron Lennon's recovery from a groin complaint and the likes of David Bentley, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King among those struggling with injury, Spurs are reduced to the bare bones.
Redknapp has been forced to recall two young midfielders, Jake Livermore and Andros Townsend, from loan spells at Peterborough and MK Dons respectively. The pair will be among Tottenham's substitutes along with three other "kids", according to the manager. "Against Fulham, without exaggerating, I've got one spare senior player," Redknapp said. "It's quite easy to pick the team at the moment because I think we have about 12 fit players. That's what I'm dealing with here."
Lennon has not played since 28 December because of his groin injury and it appears he is no closer to making a return, with Redknapp admitting the problem is baffling the Spurs medical staff.
"We have never got to the bottom of his injury and now he's still a fair way away. He has worked as hard as he can to be fit but getting to the bottom of what his problem was has been difficult.
"He can't do any more than he's doing. When he's right, he'll be back. The latest scan showed he has torn a little bit more fibres of the groin area. Until they heal it will take a bit of time."
One of three strikers – either Eidur Gudjohnsen or in-form pair Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko – will be that senior player warming the bench this evening.
Wilson Palacios is the only fit centre-midfielder available to Redknapp, so the Honduras international is set to be partnered in the middle by Luka Modric, who will move inside from the flank.
"It was always an area that scared me a bit," Redknapp said of his central midfield options. "I always thought it was the one area of the team that was very short of bodies."Reuse content