Kaboul sees end to injury woes
Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul is sure his injury troubles are well and truly behind him.
The absence of Gareth Bale cast a shadow over White Hart Lane on Saturday as Spurs wrapped up their pre-season campaign with a 1-1 draw against Espanyol, but there were plenty of positives to be taken from the game - most notably the return of Kaboul and fellow long-term injury victim Sandro.
Having played brilliantly in the final year of Harry Redknapp's reign, Kaboul slotted straight into Villas-Boas' starting XI last summer, but his 2012-13 campaign was over after just one game due to a knee injury he suffered on the opening day at Newcastle.
The Frenchman battled his way back to full fitness in the spring but, much to his dismay, he tore a thigh muscle in an Under-21 game against Manchester United.
Kaboul sat out Spurs' first five pre-season games, casting doubt on whether he would be fit for the new campaign, but the Frenchman performed well as a second-half substitute against Espanyol and he cannot wait for the season to begin.
"It's been a long time for me since I played last. It's been a year now so I am fully happy to be back with the team," Kaboul said.
Kaboul found life tough on the sidelines. Unlike Bale, who chose not to turn up to cheer on his team-mates, Kaboul was a regular visitor to White Hart Lane last year when he was sidelined.
The former Portsmouth defender always sat on the back row of the bench behind the substitutes, even though he was not required to.
Although being within touching distance of the pitch made him feel like he was still part of the squad, it also proved to be an agonising experience for the player.
"That was very hard," Kaboul said. "I was here to support the team, but it was terrible.
"Sometimes you just want to go on the pitch, take the ball and go and score. To sit there all the time was hard for me.
"When you see your team struggling, or winning, you want to be with them. Win or lose, you want to be with them and that was a big frustration.
"I missed football so, so much. I was very angry when I tore my quad at the end of last season, but this summer I got myself right to be ready for this season and now I hope the injuries are behind me.
"I was in good form so I hope to be back even better than I was when I left. Now I feel fit but I will have a good week again before the Crystal Palace game (on Sunday). I have to be ready for next Sunday."
The Tottenham team Kaboul returns to is very different to the last one he played in.
Indeed only three players who started against Espanyol yesterday were in the team that lost to Newcastle on August 18, 2012.
Hugo Lloris and Mousa Dembele joined shortly after the game at St James' Park, but Spurs failed to make the top four last season so chairman Daniel Levy strengthened the squad by spending £50million on Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli and Paulinho this summer.
Kaboul has been so impressed by the new additions that he thinks Champions League qualification is well within the team's grasp.
"We are going to have to be in the top four this season," he said.
"Last season we missed it by nothing so this year we have to be there.
"The new signings are very good. This season is looking very good for us.
"Andre has done a magnificent job for the club. He broke the points record last season and this season will be even better for him and us."