Harry Redknapp hints at Jonathan Woodgate omission
The 2008 Carling Cup win is the highlight of Woodgate's Tottenham career
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has all but confirmed Jonathan Woodgate will not be in his 25-man squad for the new season because of a groin problem.
Woodgate has made only three starts in a year in which he has undergone surgery and visited specialists in Australia and the United States.
And, with the introduction of a 25-man limit on squads this term, Redknapp said: "Woody's nowhere near right now.
"I couldn't put him in my 25. It's just impossible at the moment."
The new Premier League rule requires clubs to name a squad of 25 senior players by the end of the summer transfer window, with only players under the age of 21 allowed to supplement that line-up until January.
It means bosses face difficult decisions on which senior players to include and who to leave out, especially if those players have injury concerns.
Manchester United might face a similar dilemma with midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who has made only four club appearances in two years because of knee problems.
PREMIER LEAGUE 25-MAN SQUAD & HOME-GROWN PLAYER RULES:
Clubs register a squad of up to 25, which must include at least eight 'home-grown' players, at the end of each transfer window
Home-grown players do not have to be English; home-grown players are defined as those who "irrespective of nationality or age, have been affiliated to the FA or Welsh FA for a period of three seasons or 36 months prior to 21st birthday"
Clubs can supplement squad with unlimited number of players under the age of 21
Changes can be made only during transfer windows, although in exceptional circumstances (eg goalkeeping injury crisis) moves could be allowed
Players loaned to Football League clubs cannot be replaced, but can regain their spot on return to parent club
"It does give me a problem, but I have just got to wait as long as I can," said Ferguson.
"I have to make a decision at some point of course and it depends on when I think those players can come back."
And Redknapp admits Woodgate has just over a month to prove his fitness or face at least another three months on the sidelines.
"It must be really hard for Woody at the moment because he's nowhere near kicking a ball," added Redknapp.
"He has been out for nearly a year, been in America and Australia but he's still nowhere near.
"You can't have somebody in who's never going to play, if he's not going to be fit.
"He's got to really prove that between now and the start of the season. To have any chance he's got to be playing, otherwise you couldn't possibly have him in the 25. Not at the moment.
"He's a long way off now. We'll see how we go in January."
It leaves Redknapp's options at centre-half somewhat stretched, although the appearance of Ledley King - himself a victim of severe injury problems in the past - in training along with the rest of Tottenham's World Cup stars on Monday will have provided the Spurs boss with something of a boost.
King has a chronic knee problem that more often than not prevents him playing twice in a week. However, he was able to manage the injury last season, making 21 club appearances and forcing his way into England's World Cup squad.
Elsewhere, Michael Dawson, Sebastien Bassong and Younes Kaboul provide the senior options at centre-half, although Vedran Corluka and Tom Huddlestone have filled in in that position in the past, while youngster Kyle Walker has impressed there during pre-season.
Still, a defender remains a potential priority for Redknapp in this transfer window, with a striker and attacking midfielder thought to be his other two targets.
Redknapp believes all three could yet be brought into the club at little expense.
"I think there will be a few loans," stated Redknapp. "Clubs like Manchester City will have too big a squad as you can only have 25 players on your roster.
"They will have a problem and there will be players that clubs will want to loan out that will be good players that are earning good wages.
"Clubs will have to cut their wage bills and they don't want players sitting around doing nothing.
"I think if you are clever there are loans out there that for clubs like us would be interesting - but certainly not from abroad."
Redknapp believes there are players of the calibre of Joe Cole, who joined Liverpool last week on a free transfer despite interest from Spurs, who could be enticed to White Hart Lane.
"We are not talking about spending a fortune. I think there are a couple of bargains out there still," commented Redknapp.
"Joe Cole was one of those. There are one or two more around that would do a great job and would just make a difference for us."
If Tottenham do bolster their squad, Redknapp thinks his side, who pipped Manchester City to fourth spot last season, are capable of challenging for the Premier League title.
"You have to go in believing. I said last year we could get into the Champions League and we managed to do so," he added.
"If you don't aim for the top you are never going to reach there. I think we could have a real go this year."
It could be a challenge Tottenham make without striker Robbie Keane.
Despite the Irishman's fine pre-season form that has resulted in him scoring twice in his last two games, the 30-year-old has been repeatedly linked with a move away from White Hart Lane.
"Robbie is back with us and is working hard," said Redknapp. "He is a fantastic professional, who trains hard and wants to play. I still think he has a lot to offer. The thing is he wants to play all the time.
"There is every chance he could start the season but if it doesn't work out then I'm sure he will be the first one to come and tell me that he needs to play somewhere."
Meanwhile, Redknapp also said he would be interested in the chance to manage a combined Great Britain football team at the 2012 Olympics, if such a team is put together.
"It would be fantastic but there would be plenty of other managers who would want that too," said Redknapp.
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