Premier League leaders Tottenham Hotspur return to action this weekend and they’ll be looking to keep up their 100% record when they head to Crystal Palace.
However, manager Nuno Santo is facing a nightmare over team selection as his squad has been decimated over the international break. A combination of injury problems and quarantine regulations means that he will be forced into changing his starting XI.
There’s a major call to make in defence, a position which has arguably been the strongest under the Portuguese head coach. Spurs are yet to concede a goal under a backline of Japhet Tanganga, Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier and Sergio Reguilon.
However, the Colombian is ruled out of tomorrow’s encounter, so another name will have to come into the fray, whilst deadline day signing Emerson Royal will be pushing for a debut at right-back too.
Nuno must look to minimise the changes in defence, so Tanganga should keep his place and instead it could be time to unleash Joe Rodon after his return from injury…
The Lilywhites will also be without fellow centre-back Cristian Romero, who is with Sanchez (and Giovani Lo Celso) in Croatia for a training camp before they are able to return to the UK next week.
That means options are very scarce but Nuno should be buoyed by the 18-cap Welshman’s return.
The £9m-rated colossus is yet to feature under Nuno this season and hasn’t really played much of a part since arriving in north London back in October 2020. Last term, he made just nine starts for Spurs in all competitions before playing all four of Wales’ games at Euro 2020.
Despite rarely featuring for the Lilywhites in 2020/21, Rodon was one of the more productive defensive options as he averaged a squad-high 2.6 interceptions per 90 minutes, as well as having the best passing accuracy (88.1%) of anyone besides midfield orchestrator Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, via WhoScored.
The 6 foot 4 colossus has been described as a “pure” defender and a “real asset” by his former Swansea boss Steve Cooper in the past, whilst Jose Mourinho lauded him as “brave” for his performance against Liverpool last season.
Rodon has also been compared in playing style to Premier League legend John Terry.
“He’s right up there in terms of position for his age,” claimed Sky Sports pundit Andy Hinchcliffe. “I think what you tend to do with young centre-halves is look at the greats of the Premier League. You look at Rio Ferdinand and John Terry and there are elements of both in Rodon’s game.
He should be the only alteration to Spurs’ solid backline on Saturday lunchtime. Tanganga has done exceptionally well at right-back, winning the role over Matt Doherty and the departed Serge Aurier.
Forget Emerson, it’s Rodon who should be unleashed on the Eagles this weekend.
AND in other news, Alasdair Gold drops fresh claim on Harry Kane’s future at Spurs…