Spurs striker’s back in the frame - but he’ll have Togo again in January
Tottenham have got used to coping without Emmanuel Adebayor so far this season – and now they will have to do so again at the turn of the year.
On Sunday the Spurs forward scored one of the goals which gave Togo a 3-2 aggregate victory in a play-off against Gabon and secured their place at the African Cup of Nations in January.
It is great news for Adebayor and his international team-mates, but bad news for Andre Villas-Boas and the Lilywhites as they face the prospect of losing him for up to six weeks at a notoriously busy stage of the season.
Adebayor’s appearance in South Africa will be the climax of a big turnaround in his international career, given that he retired in 2010.
The 28-year-old was involved when the Togo team bus was fired upon on to the way to the 2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola, when three people were killed.
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He retired from international duty four months later, but agreed to play for his country again in November 2011 after assurances from the Togo Football Federation regarding safety.
That eventful journey will now take him back to the African Cup of Nations, which will be held between January 19 and February 10 – and he can be called up 14 days before the tournament starts.
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Of course, Adebayor’s absence is nothing new, given that he has made just three substitute appearances so far for Tottenham.
The result is that Spurs have played the vast majority of their 10 games without the man who led the line so successfully last season, scoring 18 goals and contributing a further 12 assists.
Fortunately, Jermain Defoe has stepped up to the plate, scoring four goals and defying the critics who say that he is ill-suited to the lone striker role – particularly away at Reading and Manchester United.
Indeed, the England striker’s form, coupled with Adebayor’s return, has given Villas-Boas a nice selection headache ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash with Chelsea – and Defoe’s recent contribution will soothe some of the fears about Adebayor’s departure.
However, the fact remains that, unless Tottenham strengthen their front line before mid-January, they will have just one senior striker in their squad for a testing period when they will hope to be fighting on four fronts as the FA Cup is added to a gruelling schedule.
That will leave Spurs heavily reliant on Defoe again at a time when fatigue and squad rotation will be much bigger issues than they are at this relatively early stage.
Easy come, easy go? We will see.
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs