July is here. Real, actual football is just around the corner for Spurs. Usually this time of the year is full of craziness for Tottenham, but the silly season has been... quiet. With Brad Friedel as the only announced signing so far, there is an opportunity for some veterans who have been on the fringe to earn playing time, or even the right to stay at the club. So let's take a look at what some players need to do in this preseason to achieve with the Lilywhites in 2011-12.
Alan Hutton- Hutton has been a polarizing figure among the Spurs faithful since his arrival from Rangers in 2008. He's been a fringe player for much of his early years, eventually falling so out of Redknapp's system that he was loaned out to Sunderland in 2010. But 2010-11 was a season of highs and lows for Hutton, as early play forced his way back into the starting line-up, before injuries and a supposed falling-out Redknapp has him on the outs. A strong preseason could force him back onto the squad, but a transfer seems more likely.
Verdict: Transferred, likely to Aston Villa forming a reunion with Alex McLeish.
Vedran Corluka- Corluka came off a season in 2009-10 that saw him rated among the best right backs in the Premiership. High expectations though were hampered by a rash of Injuries which saw Corluka limited to only nine league appearances this past season. If healthy, he's absolutely class, so look for him to start if healthy.
Verdict: Majority starter, given some time off on squad rotation.
More after the jump.
Kyle Walker- Walker is coming off a tremendous season that launched him into the Premiership consciousness. It started with a loan to QPR that saw Walker help lead the team to a first place lead on the Championship table. He moved on to greener pastures though in January, moving above Villa stalwart Luke Young as starting right back. Coming back to Tottenham, everyone is aware of how dynamic he is going forward. The test comes proving his marking and tackling are up the quality of the right backs ahead of him.
Verdict: Starter in Europa League, and rotating in for Corluka in occasional league starts.
Danny Rose- Rose is coming off a season that saw him finally start to play with the consistency to match his immense talent. Famous for his goal agains the Arse in 2010, Rose came back from a Bristol City loan in May and filled in admirably at left back. His form has continued through into becoming a mainstay of the English U-20s. Adjusted into a LB going forward for Redknapp, he will have to prove he has the positioning and tackling to stay in the squad.
Verdict: Starter in Europa League, and second choice left back.
David Bentley- Bentley has long been an enigma for Tottenham, capable of brilliance and disappearing at times. Having lost his place in the side to the recently acquired Steven Pienaar, Bentley disappointed again on loan with Birmingham City. Coming in to the season, Bentley must prove that he can be enough of replacement for wide midfielders like Niko Kranjcar that he can be good enough to replace them if sold.
Verdict: Sold for around £5 million, a disappointment for the once bought by Tottenham for £17 million
Wilson Palacios- Palacios was considered one of Tottenham's top players in 09-10. But like so many of his teammates, injuries and lost form combined to make this past season a disappointment. Injuries still hampered Palacios through the Gold Cup this offseason, so fitness will be the number one proving point. Past that, Palacios will need to show that he has the pace and the experience to be effective but not foul prone in the midfield.
Verdict: Rotation central midfielder, perhaps starter if Modric departs and Sandro's injury proves more dangerous than anticipated.
Niko Kranjcar- Niko endeared himself in the hearts of Tottenham supporters more than ever last season by proving a clutch source of goals off the bench. Yet Kranjcar was unable to establish himself in the first team. With Bale locking down his preferred left midfield position, Kranjcar's best chance for playing time is to prove he can play in the midfield and replace the production of his country-mate Modric if he departs.
Verdict: Kranjcar impresses, either earning a regular spot or a quality value transfer.
Robbie Keane- Keane has been in a rut with Tottenham the last two years, getting buried in the bench the first half of the season before going out on unfruitful loans in January. This preseason will be much about attitude for Keane, proving that he's willing to be a 20 minute sub instead of demanding a starting spot. From then its all about proving he has the legs to match his ability to his still class scoring ability.
Verdict: Keane sticks, mostly because nobody will buy him and take on his wages. Late sub in league play, and irritates by scoring in Europa League.
Jermaine Defoe/Roman Pavluychenko/Peter Crouch- This trio can all be lumped together because there mission is simple: prove they're better than the rest. Finishing will be the number one point to prove, as a clinical lack of it proved the downfall for Tottenham last season. Also imperative will be showing an ability to be a lone forward and combine with VdV, granted the benefit of a full preseason to acclimate, unlike last season. Let the games begin.
Verdict: No idea, but loser of this preseason race is sold.