Tottenham Hotspur captain Ledley King faces at least another fortnight on the sidelines nursing his thigh injury before returning to help the club's challenge for a Champions League place. The 29-year-old centre-back, who has taken the armband back since Robbie Keane's loan move to Celtic, has been out since picking up the problem in the victory at Wigan on 21 February.
While Jermain Defoe is set to return to the starting XI for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash against Blackburn, King is understood to be two weeks away from a possible comeback. He is an automatic choice for Spurs boss Harry Redknapp but cannot play matches in quick succession and rarely trains due to a chronic knee condition, which may also leave him prone to picking up other injuries.
Redknapp already has defender Jonathan Woodgate likely to miss the rest of the campaign, while Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, Aaron Lennon and David Bentley are also in the treatment room as Spurs look to stay fourth in the table.
Defoe started on the bench at the weekend against Fulham due to a tight hamstring but he could return on Saturday. Also returning are Kyle Walker and Frenchman Younes Kaboul after being ineligible for the FA Cup draw at Craven Cottage. Kaboul has only started one game since returning to White Hart Lane from Portsmouth in January.
"It's good to have a lot of players because when there are a lot of games you can change things around," said the Frenchman. "Of course, only 11 can play so that means you have to fight every day in training to play at the weekend and I'm ready for that."
Kaboul, along with Michael Dawson and Sebastien Bassong, provide cover for King at centre-back but Redknapp will want his captain back before the middle of April, when Spurs play Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in consecutive league matches.
Meanwhile, Spurs striker Robbie Keane, on loan at Celtic, is impressing his new manager Tony Mowbray, who is hoping the forward's motivation to succeed will rub off on his team-mates. The Republic of Ireland international showed why the Glasgow club are paying a reported £65,000 per week to borrow him from Tottenham with a brace at Falkirk on Sunday.
The Celtic manager, though, was as praiseworthy of Keane for his teamwork as much as his goals, which took his tally to five since joining in January. "Top players have that motivation in-bred," Mowbray said. "That's part and parcel of being a top player. For some of our younger players, hopefully it will rub off. They will see that, if you are going to play at the top level anywhere in the world – and Robbie has played all over the world – that is something which has got to come from within. It's not something you can switch on and off on match day.
"Another example would be Wayne Rooney. Whenever he plays, he runs around, tackles, chases and fights. That's driven from within, and I think Robbie wants to score goals, wants to help his team and his club. I was delighted with his performance on Sunday."