The story of Tottenham Hotspur's 5-2 away drubbing by AS Monaco, for Spurs fans, was surely the dire state of the club's central defense. With Jan Vertonghen injured, Michael Dawson apparently struggling for fitness, and Younes Kaboul still awaiting his pre-season debut, Spurs started Zeki Fryers and Jake Livermore. They are not good center backs. The results were roughly as expected.
It's not entirely clear who played central defense in Spurs' closed-door friendly against Enfield Town, but the collected tweets of ETFC players suggest that Dawson did not play again. With opening day at Crystal Palace fast approaching, this is a problem that very much needs solving.
Luckily for Spurs fans, there was a little bit of good news this morning. First, Sky Sports reports that Jan Vertonghen's rehab is progressing quickly and he holds out hope of returning in time for the start of the season.
Boss Andre Villas-Boas has all but ruled the Belgian out of the opening match of the season, at Crystal Palace on August 18, but Vertonghen says he is feeling better and hopeful of being available.
"It was two weeks ago that I was injured in Hong Kong and I'm making a lot of progress," Vertonghen said. "I'm starting to run, but the next game is in 10 days' time so it is going to be quite close. You never know what can happen and I will always aim for the best and hope next week I'll be very close."
It doesn't sound like Crystal Palace in likely, but a second-week debut against Swansea City does sound plausible if Vertonghen's rehab is going as well as he suggests. Let's hope.
Even if the Belgian center half returns to action quickly, Spurs will still have a shortage at his position. Younes Kaboul remains a doubt, and even if he's fully fit Spurs would need a fourth CB for depth. There were some suggestions that the still-unconfirmed but increasingly likely signing of Étienne Capoue from Toulouse might serve to strengthen the back line as well as central midfield. Duncan Castles reports that the club plans to use Capoue in midfield, however, and that they are "lining up" another center back signing.
Though the 6-foot-2 Capoue is a capable central defender, Villas-Boas does not plan to use a player he has tracked for several years to cover for injuries that could see both Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson miss the start of the English league season. Instead, Tottenham intend to bring in a young defender to replace Steven Caulker; sold to Cardiff at the end of last month.
Perhaps you'd rather hear specifics, but honestly I appreciate the lack thereof. This is the sort of news that an actual reporter tends to get from sources. I hope Castles' source is correct, because another central defender signing before the season kicks off is obviously needed.