TOTTENHAM centre-back Michael Dawson’s return from injury has handed Harry Redknapp a timely boost to help ease the defensive crisis at White Hart Lane.
Spurs boss Redknapp saw Ledley King pick up a hamstring problem against Chelsea at the weekend and Sebastien Bassong suffered head, neck and knee injuries, while Jonathan Woodgate could require further surgery on the groin complaint that has kept him out all season.
Dawson, who has not played since April, has recovered from his damaged Achilles and the 25-year-old could play for an hour at Preston tonight in the third round of the Carling Cup.
“Michael is in the squad and I might look to give him an hour — that is as much as we can expect from him as he’s been out for a long time,” Redknapp said.
“We don’t want to break him down again. It’s good to have him back.”
Redknapp will field fringe players at Deepdale, such as Giovani dos Santos and David Bentley, with Heurelho Gomes expected to return in goal after overcoming a thigh problem. Roman Pavlyuchenko has an Achilles knock so Peter Crouch leads the attack.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov has called on his side to take the next step after three years of progression under manager Martin O’Neill, and start winning silverware ahead of tonight’s home Carling Cup clash with Cardiff City.
“I think we have made very good progress in the last couple of years but now we will try to aim for something higher,” Petrov said.
“We will try and get some silverware and I hope we can do it this season.
“It will be hard. We know the expectations from last season, the pressure that comes with it, and we are ready to fight again and handle that pressure.”
O’Neill is expected to make changes from the side which overcame Portsmouth 2-0 at the weekend — their fourth successive league win — to face the Bluebirds.
One player waiting to see if he will get an opportunity against Cardiff is midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker, left out of the squad to face Pompey after a training ground bust-up with O’Neill.
He has since apologised to O’Neill and will hope the no-nonsense former Celtic boss is in a forgiving mood.
In tonight’s other tie, Everton travel to fellow Premier League outfit Hull.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved