The emergence of Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart as Tottenham Hotspur's two best players this season could have unfortunate consequences for England manager Fabio Capello.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, whose side face Sunderland at White Hart Lane tonight said yesterday that getting both of those talents in the same team will come at the expense of a striker. So when Jermain Defoe returns to fitness in two weeks' time he will be competing with fellow England hopeful Peter Crouch for one place in the team.
Capello's striking options are limited as it is, but Van der Vaart's arrival seems certain to restrict the first-team opportunities for both Crouch and Defoe, who already have competition for places from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Robbie Keane.
Crouch has enjoyed a prolonged run in the team this season in Defoe's absence, scoring five goals in Europe but failing to score yet in the League.
“Well, it's a problem isn't it? It's very difficult to get two strikers in and Van der Vaart,” Redknapp said yesterday.
“So really you're looking to play with one striker and Rafa because Rafa will score as many goals as most strikers anyway and he gives you other bits that he can do. If you play two and him in behind, you can't balance your team up.”
Redknapp admitted Tottenham, who have scored just 13 league goals from 11 games, have missed the contribution of Defoe, who has been out since suffering an ankle injury on England duty in September.
Redknapp said: “He would have had half a dozen, or seven. That could make the difference to another five or six points. It's hard when you lose your best players.”