Tottenham skipper Ledley King is expected to travel to Poland to face Wisla Krakow and help Juande Ramos turn around the club’s disastrous start to the campaign.
King has featured in Spurs’ two wins this season but his recovery from knee surgery has prevented him from playing twice in quick succession and the centre-back was rested for the defeat to Portsmouth at the weekend.
With Roman Pavlyuchenko and Vedran Corluka ineligible to face Wisla, head coach Ramos will have 19 senior players to fill his 18-man matchday squad as Spurs look to protect their 2-1 lead – and that is if Gareth Bale recovers from a minor foot injury.
“Pavlyuchenko and Corluka can’t play in Europe, Ledley King can’t play in every match, Gareth Bale is injured, we have small injuries each week and I need to change three or four players every match,” explained the Spaniard.
King has endured two years of injury problems but has been involved in Spurs’ significant wins during that time, including the Carling Cup win against Chelsea in February.
The 27-year-old used the final two months of last season to concentrate on rehabilitation, during which time his team-mates mustered just two Premier League wins.
He spent time recovering in Barcelona to get himself right for the new season, although he is still used sparingly by Ramos, who admits the injury has to be monitored after each appearance.
At stake in Krakow is a place in the UEFA Cup group stages and the guaranteed income that another four European matches brings, then Spurs will concentrate on getting league points against Hull and Stoke.
The inquest into Spurs’ worst league start in 53 years will continue if they fail to kick-start their season, with former Spurs boss Terry Venables blaming the failure to land Zenit St Petersburg playmaker Andrei Arshavin.
Venables views Arshavin as the perfect foil for Russia team-mate Pavlyuchenko, while Spurs’ staff accept Darren Bent is too similar to the club’s £13.8m signing from Spartak Moscow.
Ramos also has Fraizer Campbell on loan from Manchester United, although he too admitted he had a similar game to Bent when he came off the bench for his debut, in the first leg against Wisla.
“I believe they were relying heavily on bringing in Roman Pavlyuchenko, which they did, and pairing him with Andrei Arshavin from Zenit St Petersburg,” said Venables in his column in The Sun.
“Only on Sunday night, after losing 2-0 at Portsmouth, Ramos’ number two Gus Poyet publicly admitted Pavlyuchenko and Darren Bent cannot play together - which suggests Tottenham never intended them to be their main striker partnership.
“They thought they were going to get Arshavin. He would have been Pavlyuchenko’s perfect partner and no doubt they would have transferred their international success at Euro 2008 to the Premier League.
“But Spurs completely misread the Russians’ resolve to get top dollar for him. This was a massive managerial blunder by Spurs, especially when they had allowed Keane to leave for Liverpool.”