Tom Huddlestone missed most of last season through injury, managing only four appearances for Tottenham. He had two ankle operations during the season and his only appearances were in August, 2011 as a substitute in the opening two League games and at Hearts in the Europa League. His only start was in the home game against the Edinburgh side. It was the following July before he was able to make a tentative return in the pre-season friendly at Stevenage. This summer’s transfer speculation was that Huddlestone would go out on loan in an attempt to resurrect his career. New manager, Andre Villas-Boas wanted him to get regular first-team football in order to prove his fitness. It was reported that Spurs had agreed a deal for him to go to Stoke City but Huddlestone had other thoughts on the issue.
Tom Huddlestone was 19 years of age when he joined Tottenham in January, 2005 from Derby County but remained at the Baseball Ground for the rest of the season. He had made 95 appearances for Derby and then spent time on loan with Wolves before making his Spurs’ debut in January, 2006. Before the start of this season, he had made 178 League and Cup appearances for Tottenham and scored 15 goals. Some his goals have been of the most spectacular kind with his ability to sweetly strike the ball from distance with both power and precision. From 2006 to 2011, Huddlestone was a regular in the team and had his most successful year in the team which finally managed to achieve Champions League football by finishing fourth in 2010. He made 32 appearances for the England Under-21 team and was selected by Fabio Capello for three England caps in 2009-10.
While it appeared that Huddlestone’s Tottenham career was about to be put on hold with a loan spell away from the club, he was unable to reach agreement with Stoke as the Potteries club were unsure that he had recovered from his injury. After the transfer window closed in England, it was mooted in the media that he might go on loan to Turkey or a Russian club but nothing further materialised.
Meanwhile, Huddlestone who had been omitted from the match squad for the opening two League games was included as a substitute for the home game against Norwich. He came on as a late substitute as Spurs tried to defend a one goal lead. He replaced Jermaine Defoe in the 81st minute. Norwich equalised four minutes later and then in the 88th minute, Huddlestone was sent off for a lunging tackle. This short cameo seemed to sum up perfectly Huddlestone’s position with Tottenham this season. It looked grim for him, knowing that he wasn’t really part of the manager’s plan and facing suspension. His red card was rescinded by the Football Association and from that point his season has started to look much brighter. He has now made 9 appearances, first as a substitute in the League matches but starting in Cup and Europa League matches. He has started the last four matches with the injury to Mousa Dembele once again giving him the opportunity to start Premier League matches.
Former Tottenham player, Graham Roberts welcomed Huddlestone’s re-appearance in the first team on Twitter this afternoon.
Tom Huddlestone often gets accused of lacking pace but he possesses the ability to play with grace and style. He is such an elegant and talented player who is able to pass the ball both long and short. An outstanding feature of his game was his diagonal cross field passes which released Aaron Lennon on the right wing. It takes time, however, to get back into the rhythm after being absent through injury for such a long period. Huddlestone is probably the one player in the Tottenham squad who is capable of picking a pass through a packed defence and that is a rare talent, something that Spurs can not afford to discard lightly.
Huddlestone looked such a forlorn character at the start of the season but in his response to Roberts he has obviously recovered his enthusiasm and enjoyment of the game.
Huddlestone has shown Andre Villas-Boas that he can be a part of the manager’s plans and will be hoping to maintain that progress at Norwich in the Capital One Cup. All it needs is a special Huddlestone strike for a goal to make his recovery complete.