Tottenham Hotspur will not win the league this season and their top four push could be in jeopardy.
That is unless Harry Redknapp signs a top-class centre-half in the January transfer window.
The White hart Lane club were dealt a huge blow on Monday with the news that club captain Ledley King had suffered a suspected torn hamstring in training. There has been no date put on King’s recovery but, should the scans confirm Spurs’ worst fears, the defender is unlikely to feature again for a number of weeks.
It is just the latest in a career attenuated by injuries and there is no real surprise at the news. It has been said many times but King has had rotten luck derail what would surely have been a glittering career at the highest level.
The latest injury setback leaves Redknapp with a mounting crisis at the centre of his defence, one that could undo all the success his side have had in the first half of the season.
The severity of the blow was lessened somewhat by the added news that Michael Dawson has returned to full fitness following an Achilles injury and will be available for the clash with Everton on Wednesday.
Although Dawson’s return will cheer Spurs fans, he cannot be expected to simply pick up where he left off before suffering the injury. Four months is a considerable amount of time to be out and it will take a number of weeks for him to get back up to pace.
The other options that Redknapp has do not fill one with confidence – other than the impressive Younes Kaboul, the former West Ham United manager can only call on Sebastien Bassong to fill the second centre-back berth.
This is because William Gallas was struck down with a calf tear in the recent win over West Brom at White Hart Lane and will be out for a few weeks. The prospect of having to field a player who has only just returned to action form a long-term injury or a defender who has so far been unable to impress is not ideal.
Kaboul has become a stalwart of the Spurs defence this season and he is rightly winning plaudits for his role in their surge to third in the Barclays Premier League.
The problem is that this is the young Frenchman’s breakthrough year and he has not proved that he can maintain such imperious form for the duration of an entire season.
This situation may force Redknapp to make a move in the transfer market and he has been linked with a number of players up until now.
The White Hart Lane club’s main target from the summer window – Bolton’s Gary Cahill – is on the verge of joining London rivals Chelsea.
The Spurs boss admitted an interest in signing the England international, but conceded that his club wee unable to match the wages on offer at Stamford Bridge.
Redknapp has been quoted as having looked at Blackburn Rovers captain Chris Samba but he will have to fight it out with Queens Park Rangers for the players signature – the west London club have had a bid turned down for the imposing centre-half.
There is not a wealth of top-class defenders available in the current window and Redknapp may have to add to his reputation as a wheeler-dealer – though he has famously refuted that tag in the past.
Whether they decide to sign reinforcements or not, there is a serious defensive problem looming over Tottenham going into the second half of the season.
While Redknapp’s side have been lauded for the quality of football they are playing, their success has been founded on consistent solid defensive performances – something they have struggled to do for years.
White Hart Lane has been a joyful place so far this season, but it could all end in tears if nothing is done to replace the King.