COMMENTARY | Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas is set to get two lineup mainstays without the club having spent anything in the transfer market.
The club confirmed on Friday that central defender Younes Kaboul has played what the Tottenham website called a "full part" in the team's preseason training, and also that midfielder Sandro will meet up with the team next week for training before Spurs head off for the Barclays Asia Trophy competition in Hong Kong. A knee injury kept Kaboul sidelined for nearly all of the 2012-13 campaign. Sandro suffered a knee injury of his own during Tottenham's January clash with Queens Park Rangers, a problem that required him to have season-ending surgery.
Kaboul's injury woes, while surely difficult for him, proved to give second life to Michael Dawson. Dawson, who himself had dealt with numerous injury problems in the past, was reportedly on AVB's chopping block last summer, to the point that he nearly completed a £9m pound move to QPR before deadline day. Tottenham's longest serving player eventually won his manager over, however, to the point that Dawson finished the season as the team's undisputed captain. With Dawson and Jan Vertonghen pairing up to be one of the more consistent duos in central defense in the Premier League last season, Kaboul may find himself relegated to the bench and Europa League fixtures upon his official return to active duty.
The end of Sandro's 2012-13 season brought with it zero good news for anybody at the club. Scott Parker, one of the team's MVP candidates from the previous campaign, never looked like the player of old after returning from an Achilles injury that kept him off the pitch for roughly one-half of the season. Spurs were, like Parker, missing a step without their midfield general on the pitch, dropping points to the likes of Norwich, Fulham and Wigan during a stretch of play that ultimately cost them Champions League football for the second consecutive year.
Regardless of which man earns the starting gig between Kaboul and Dawson, Spurs are, on paper, set to have the type of depth at CB needed to challenge for both a top-four finish and also a trophy. It's worth noting that both Kaboul and Vertonghen can, when necessary, also play out on the wings, something that gives their manager even further options on match days. All indications are that Villas-Boas will again be set on winning Europa League, a task Tottenham failed to complete last season in part because of injuries to nearly half of AVB's first-choice lineup.
Sandro returning to full fitness is equal to Spurs getting a top signing for free. Once he is deemed by the club to be 100 percent, he will, if Villas-Boas is keen on going to a 4-3-3 on a full-time basis, join fellow Brazilian and new Tottenham teammate Paulinho and Mousa Dembele in the middle. That could, once all the inevitable chemistry issues get sorted out, be as good a trio as you see in the Premier League this coming season.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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