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Feb 5, 2013

Adebayor will give Spurs options, but will he deliver consistency?

I spent much of my last article giving vent to my hopes that Togo would be knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving Emmanuel Adebayor free to return to Tottenham.

As you've probably seen by now, I've got my wish. Adebayor is back and one would expect him to lead the line against Newcastle on Saturday.

There is a certain irony in the fact that a lot of Spurs fans have found themselves worrying about the ability of Jermain Defoe and Adebayor of late, despite the fact that neither have been playing well.

- AVB calm over striker 'risk'

Or perhaps I should say that Adebayor wasn't playing well until he went off with Togo. He's been one of the best players in the tournament and though he only scored one goal, Adebayor was at the heart of Togo's best moments.

Now you could argue that the standard at the Africa Cup of Nations isn't up to the level of the Premier League and you'd be right. That cuts both ways, however. Adebayor has not been receiving the sort of service for Togo that he can expect from Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon.

Adebayor has had a stop-start season in which he's never been able to build any rhythm. With Defoe out for some time, Adebayor will be left to play on his own up front and that's when he's at his best.

The most complete performance of the season from Adebayor came in Tottenham's 2-1 defeat to Manchester City. Up against his former club, Adebayor looked energised and gave a very good account of himself.

Spurs must now pray that Adebayor starts to deliver at that level consistently. It's not like he can be dropped, after all.

The main question raised by Adebayor's return is how the midfield shapes up around him. Does Bale continue in his central role behind the striker?

If he does, then the spot on the left side of Tottenham's midfield will go to either Clint Dempsey or Lewis Holtby. Similarly, if Bale returns to the left, then the spot behind Adebayor will also be contested between Dempsey and Holtby.

When Defoe is playing up front alone, then Dempsey is very much needed to give some height and heading ability to the attack. With Adebayor, that need is negated.

I think that Holby's range of passing and dribbling ability would make him a more dangerous player in that role than Dempsey. Let's face it; Holtby's two cameo performances so far very much suggest that he will be a first-team starter in the not-too-distant future.

It wasn't so long ago that I was writing about the fact that Andre Villas-Boas has turned Spurs into a meritocracy. For that reason I'll be neither surprised nor disappointed if Holtby doesn't start. Dempsey has been in good form and if not for Holtby's arrival, no one would be talking about him being dropped from the team.

What's great is the fact that we're even able to have this debate. If Adebayor had not returned, Spurs would not have the luxury of options. Dempsey would start up front and Holtby would come into the midfield.

Now Villas-Boas at least has some different attacking options to choose from. In addition, Harry Kane was in fine form during an U21 game against West Ham this week, scoring from long-range.

Hopefully Kane will be on the bench on Saturday, giving us two strikers in the squad, with Dempsey always ready to fill in.

Leandro Damiao. Who needs him?

OK. We do, but you can't deny that things look a lot rosier today than they did on Sunday afternoon.