Carrying on a rich vein of Tottenham sick notes is Jonathan Woodgate, who has not played for Spurs since November 2009 and whose injury problems led to him being left out of Tottenham’s 25 man Premier League squad. His opportunities at international level have been equally limited. Due to his injuries he has never really had the chance to press home his case for a place in the England team and earned just eight caps. A lack of form and fitness while in the Spanish capital with Real Madrid ensured that there was a three year gap between winning his fifth and sixth cap.
On the cusp of 31 Woodgate is no spring chicken and with his injury track record his next return from injury, assuming that is made, could be his last chance to have a major impact for a big club, Spurs, and add to his international caps. Yet he has shown during his time at Newcastle and his one full season being fully fit at Tottenham that he is an impressive defensive talent. So was this a great career that was never allowed to develop to its true potential, constantly being hampered by injury? A poor spell in Madrid is no great black mark against Woodgate, after all Tottenham fans will know all about fantastic players who never fully made it in the Bernebau through signing of the season Rafael Van der Vaart along with compatriots Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder.
For Spurs it is obvious to see the Woodgate-shaped hole in the defence over the last year or so. During the 2008-09 campaign, where Woodgate participated fully, despite a atrocious start and overall poor season, Tottenham conceded only ten goals at White Hart Lane. This season without Woodgate, admittedly with other defenders missing as well, Tottenham have only this week recorded their second clean sheet of the campaign at the 27th time of asking. How a reassured presence of Woodgate would be such a boost to a defence that is constantly having its personnel changed due to a major injury concern over the other first choice centre back, Ledley King, as well. This lack of experience in the heart of defence was emphasised almost poetically by Younes Kaboul getting himself needlessly sent off against Newcastle.
It is difficult to see, even if Woodgate had been playing week in week out for the last few years, how he would have been able to force his way into the England setup as one of the main centre backs for England ahead of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. However, neither of these two have been free from injury, particularly Rio, and with the international defence looking distinctly shaky when this first choice pairing is out, an experienced and injury free Woodgate would have been an ideal and competent replacement to step in when needed. His return in the next few weeks throws into light the player that both Tottenham and England have missed dearly over the last few years or so.