King eyes more playing time
Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Ledley King is planning on being a regular for Harry Redknapp this season after learning how to manage his chronic knee problems. The 28-year-old, after seeing managers depart in the early stages of the last two seasons, is hopeful of finally playing his part in a positive start to a campaign. The signs have been good under Harry Redknapp and the fact the club is not in Europe will help King play consistently, which the Spurs manager feels is one of the keys to a good season.
"Hopefully I can get many more games under my belt," said King. "Personally, I'm not aiming to play a certain number, just as many as I can. Obviously there's no Europa League this season for us, so hopefully that will help me."
King's knee is "bone on bone" and last season he barely trained with the rest of the squad, instead viewing practices to learn set-plays after personal sessions. He still made 29 appearances over the last year and was given a controversial call-up to the England squad, before withdrawing.
Juande Ramos played King in cup matches before getting the sack, with Redknapp prioritising the relegation battle after that. King then played a part in pushing Spurs towards the European places.
"For a long part of last season, we were looking forward to this season, to getting off to a good start," King said. "This is a great chance to test ourselves to see if we've improved.
"It was a strange season, for long periods we were at the bottom and to come away with the record we did, conceding only ten goals at home, is a testament to the players and the staff," he said. "We became a tough team beat."
Redknapp could be forgiven for feeling nervous after Martin Jol and Ramos departed early in the previous two seasons.
"If we can do better than last year, we'll be delighted," said Redknapp. "We're on our way to building a very good team and it can only get better."
Redknapp is looking for a holding midfielder and has looked at Toulouse's Moussa Sissoko. He would also welcome a left winger, but does not feel Aston Villa are willing to part with Ashley Young. David Bentley is among the players who could leave if a buyer is found.
Spurs start their season against Liverpool, a repeat of Redknapp's third match in charge when Rafael Benitez's men dominated but were defeated by Roman Pavlyuchenko's late winner. While Spurs had to cope last season with losing Dimitar Berbatov, Liverpool this time around have seen Xabi Alonso depart.
"Alonso's a good player so I'm sure any team would miss him, but they've got a good manager who's brought in a new player in [Alberto] Aquilani," King said.
"I've seen a bit of him and he looks good. We're yet to see how he'll settle into the team, but I'm sure they'll juggle a few things around and they'll still be a strong team.
"I'm a little bit surprised that they haven't bought another striker this summer, but obviously the manager believes in the players he's got as back-up."