Anthony Gardner, the Tottenham defender, fears surgery may be the only cure for the foot injury which has ruined his season. The 23-year-old has made just 14 starts after collecting the injury two months into the new campaign.
It flared up again after Tottenham's 1-0 win over Newcastle last month and the former Port Vale centre-back is frustrated that the injury has so far failed to respond adequately to treatment.
Gardner had high hopes for a successful season after gaining an England call-up and a first cap against Sweden last term. But the foot injury has wrecked his year and now the tall defender fears an operation maybe required to cure it once and for all.
"I aggravated it in the Newcastle game and since then it has been terrible," Gardner said. "I've just had to try to manage it, but it has got to the stage where I can't carry on with it any longer.
"I originally picked it up in October and it has just been there all the time since. But then there was only Ledley King and Noureddine Naybet and myself and we could not get anybody in as the transfer window had shut."
Gardner is already setting his sights on getting fit for next season when he hopes that Tottenham will be in Europe. They currently sit in the last Uefa Cup qualification place and face their nearest challengers for that place, Middlesbrough, at the Riverside Stadium this Saturday.
Gardner added: "Europe would be fantastic. All the boys want to play in it as they watch it on the TV every week and they just want to be involved."
Tottenham have handed week-long trials to the Portuguese duo, Antunes and Andre Leo. The youngsters play for De Freamunde but travelled to north London at the weekend.
Antunes and Andre Leo have played for Portugal at youth level and are understandably thrilled at the link-up with Martin Jol's side. Andre Leo said: "The dream is becoming reality early but I hope the adventure lasts more than a week."
Jol and his coaching team will run the rule over the left-back Antunes and the central midfielder Andre Leo before deciding whether to sign them on a permanent basis in the summer.
Middlesbrough's club captain, Gareth Southgate, has reminded his team-mates that their European fate lies in their own hands. The point the Teessiders gained at Liverpool on Saturday was not enough to keep them in a Uefa Cup place for long, as Tottenham's 5-1 demolition of Aston Villa 24 hours later took them seventh in the Premiership table on goal difference.
After Tottenham's visit to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday,ninth-placed Manchester City, who are just three points adrift of Boro, will host Steve McClaren's men on the final day of the campaign, so the race for Europe could not be much tighter.
"It was crucial we got something from our game, but we know we have to win against Tottenham," Southgate said.
"We are playing the two teams who can stop us getting there. Two wins will get us there, but we can look no further forward than next Saturday."
- More about:
- English Football League 2
- Newcastle United
- Port Vale FC
- Premier League
- Stephen Carter
- Tottenham Hotspur