Defoe delight for Spurs
Jermain Defoe has handed Tottenham a well-needed fitness boost by returning to full training almost a month ahead of schedule.
Striker Defoe had been expected to be sidelined for around three months when he underwent surgery on ankle ligament damage suffered during England's European Championship qualifier in Switzerland in September.
But the 28-year-old recovered well ahead of schedule and on Tuesday he trained fully with the rest of the Spurs squad not on international duty.
It is unclear whether Defoe will be risked for Saturday's north London derby at the Emirates Stadium.
But his return to full training could hardly be more timely, coming just 24 hours after Tottenham revealed Tom Huddlestone was set to undergo ankle surgery and would be out for around three months.
The loss of key midfielder Huddlestone was a huge blow at a time when Spurs face key Barclays Premier League games against Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea and clashes with Werder Bremen and FC Twente that will decide their Champions League fate.
Tottenham have struggled for goals in the absence of Defoe, who finished top scorer at White Hart Lane last season with 24 in all competitions.
Manager Harry Redknapp has changed his system in the meantime, playing new talisman Rafael van der Vaart off a lone striker.
Doubt has been cast previously on the diminutive Defoe's ability to lead the line but Redknapp pointed out last week the forward had netted a hat-trick for England in precisely those circumstances just days before his injury.
National team boss Fabio Capello, who has a number of attackers sidelined for the friendly against France, will also welcome the return of Defoe.