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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 9, 2007

Lennon fitness blow adds to England woe

Aaron Lennon has added to Steve McClaren's problems on the right flank after it was revealed he will not return to training with Tottenham until the end of the month.

Lennon faces a race against time to be fit for England's European Championship qualifiers against Israel and Russia on September 8 and 12, with David Beckham also short of match fitness at the start of his career in America.

The problem could prompt McClaren to consider David Bentley, the Blackburn midfielder who impressed against Albania in a B international at the end of last season but angered Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce for pulling out of the European Championships this summer.

Spurs only have one game in September before the international break, which would also hamper Lennon's return to full sharpness after recovering from knee surgery.

'He will be back in training in three weeks, at the end of the month,' said Spurs boss Martin Jol. 'He had no reaction and is doing conditioning work with the coaches.

'He had an operation on the outside cartilage of his knee, which is three months. He's been out for eight weeks so far.'

Spurs captain Ledley King will also miss the England matches at Wembley next month as he is also recovering from knee surgery.

Lennon had provided Jol with an option on right last season and despite a busy summer, Spurs still do not have an out-and-out left winger.

Kevin-Prince Boateng, signed from Hertha Berlin, is willing to play anywhere across the midfield as he looks to make an impression in the Barclays Premier League, although Jol is reluctant to play the newcomer in an unfamiliar position.

The 20-year-old postponed his honeymoon to complete his signing at White Hart Lane and is desperate to make his mark and help Spurs compete towards the top of the league.

'With this team we can go to fourth place and maybe I think higher, if we get luck,' said the German. 'This team is great.'

Boateng is still short of match-fitness so may not feature against Sunderland on Saturday, but he is confident of eventually adapting to his new surroundings.

'It's a big step for me,' he added. 'Jurgen Klinsmann was a big hero here and I want to see if I can do it also.'

Boateng looks set to compete in midfield with Hossam Ghaly, who is back training with Spurs after a move to Birmingham collapsed.

Jol insists Ghaly did not criticise Birmingham players and the Egypt midfielder is building his fitness again after returning injured from international duty earlier in the summer.

'He's starting again and doing a lot of things we were doing in the second and third week,' Jol said.

'He was one of our best players last season according to the statistics.

'I know him and he is a good boy, he gets his head down and works.

'I had one incident with him but that was the only time he ever got fined.'

Meanwhile, reserve defender Rodrigo Defendi has joined Italian Serie B side US Avellino on a permanent transfer.