Tottenham's Bale facing fitness race
Tottenham full-back Gareth Bale faces a race to be fit for his club debut this weekend as Martin Jol's defensive concerns intensify ahead of the Premier League season.
Bale has struggled in pre-season with thigh and knee problems and Spurs are already without skipper Ledley King for the trip to Sunderland as they start their bid to break into the top four.
'Hopefully I will be ready to get back to training soon but I'm not sure if I will be ready for Sunderland,' said the 18-year-old Wales full-back, signed this summer in a £10million deal from Southampton.
King is recovering from knee surgery and is out for two months, while Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Young-Pyo Lee are also hampered by injury.
It means Jol could field Ricardo Rocha or Anthony Gardner at left-back at the Stadium of Light. Elsewhere, Aaron Lennon is out until the end of the month as he recovers from knee surgery.
Jol has selection problems of a different kind in attack, with Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane, Darren Bent and Jermain Defoe competing for places up front.
Egypt striker Mido is still at White Hart Lane but is the subject of a bid from Sunderland after a move to Birmingham collapsed.
Spurs were also willing to part with midfielder Hossam Ghaly, also to Birmingham, but he returned to London at the end of last week after angering Blues manager Steve Bruce with his attitude.
Ghaly appears to be in limbo as Spurs have signed Kevin-Prince Boateng from Hertha Berlin to increase their options in midfield in anticipation of his departure.
Meanwhile, Berbatov has been impressed with how the club's new signings have settled in during the summer.
'We have helped them settle at the club, which is a good thing and they are playing like they have been at the club a long time,' said the Bulgaria international.
'The truth is, they can help us achieve our goals this season.'