Eleven games to go, North London derby approaching and a strike force with all the sharpness of a Jason McAteer stand-up routine; the Lilywhites are screaming out for a fresh pair of legs up front and right on cue, Jermain Defoe appears ready to return to battle this weekend.
Speaking in the press conference ahead of Sunday’s clash with the Arse, Villas-Boas told reporters:
“Jermain trained with the team the last two days and so hopefully he will be available for selection if he trains again tomorrow.
“He’s definitely a contender for the game.”
Indeed, given the impotency/non-existence/steaming pile of garbage that Emmanuel Adebayor has over the past few games, Defoe’s return to this Spurs side has been heralded as something resembling the second coming in recent weeks. Although we could do well to hold the press on that one or at the very least, cool down a little on the expectation.
Before JD injured ankle ligaments against West Bromwich Albion, as painful as it was to see 50% of our strike force (Ade’s African sojourn ensured that percentage reached 100% back in February) it’s worth noting that we were hardly temporarily parting with one of Europe’s in-form strikers.
Defoe went into the game at the Hawthorns during the start of the month having scored just one goal since his brace against Fulham on December 1st. After knocking away 14 in all competitions this season, his standing with the home crowd is understandably light-years in front of the futile three that Adebayor has put away.
Although at fear of inducing the fiery rage of the Emmanuel Adebayor wagon of hate that’s developed in recent weeks, given the fact his season didn’t really begin until mid November – following a raft of fitness and injury issues – is Defoe’s season really on the untouchable plateau that many seem to be making out?
No one is discounting the goals he scored before Adebayor made his first league start and the fact the Togolese came to us so out of place in the first place, was a pretty frustrating aspect in itself. But since his first start against Manchester City on November 11th, Adebayor has two league goals. Defoe? The startlingly superior total of five.
Clearly we’re ignoring the fact Defoe didn’t turn up hideously late after international duty, he didn’t get sent off and inflict humiliation on derby day and he hasn’t missed too many open goals this season. But it’s in that last point that maybe we should, as hard as it may sound, throw Adebayor an olive branch.
His miss against West Ham wasn’t the sign of someone who didn’t give a monkeys about the club or his teammates. It was the sign of a player whose confidence has hit an absolute rock bottom. Yet this weekend, he’s got the perfect chance to defibrillate his season.
Red card or not, those first 20 minutes at the Emirates earlier on this season were amongst the most alive we’ve seen the ex-City man all season. It’s the one game a season which means more to him than any other and he will be absolutely desperate to get a goal. So let’s give him once last chance.
Defoe can come off the bench and cause carnage running at tired legs in the last 20 minutes. After just returning to training, he doesn’t need to start this weekend. Yet get you get the sense with Adebayor however, that his is his stage, his last-chance saloon. He’s more than capable of scoring, but he must be given the chance.
Regardless of how he performs this weekend, his long-term prospects at the club may well be damaged beyond repair. But in the short-term, regardless of our personal sentiments, he’s still got a big part to play should we want that Champions League qualification. Don’t write him off just yet.