Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Redknapp plans to gamble on Woodgate recall

Jonathan Woodgate could make his return from injury tonight in a move Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has described as a "massive gamble". The centre-half has not played since November 2009 but the unavailability of other centre-backs for Spurs' game at Blackburn Rovers may force Redknapp to select him.

The 31-year-old has played for the reserves but Redknapp recognised that a first-team return would be a risk given the length of his absence. "Woodgate is back in my squad which is a massive gamble for me, the club and for him," Redknapp said. "He could start. I have got him in my mind to throw him in at the deep end. He's not played a game of any note but he's in my mind because he's such a fantastic player. I'm dreaming that he can come in and be somewhere near what he was straight away, which is not easy. We have some key, very important, players missing so we have been pushed into pushing Woodgate in way in advance of what we should be."

Such a return to action would owe as much to Woodgate's fitness as to the absence of colleagues. Ledley King and Younes Kaboul require groin and knee surgery respectively; Redknapp said that club captain King was "nowhere near being able to play", having not featured since October. Michael Dawson is suspended having been sent off in Sunday's defeat at Fulham, while William Gallas is a doubt. Spurs will also be without Gareth Bale and Tom Huddlestone as they seek to return to the top four.

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