Woodgate might not kick a ball all season, says Redknapp
Harry Redknapp and Sir Alex Ferguson have illustrated what affect the new 25-man squad rule means for players prone to injury, after each declared that their final selections could have big names omitted.
Fresh legislation for this season makes managers pick a squad of 25 players by September 1st, from which eight must be ‘home-grown’, in the sense that they spent at least three years at an English or Welsh club before the age of 21.
An unlimited number of players under 21 can be included.
Redknapp yesterday admitted this could result in Jonathan Woodgate, who signed for Tottenham for £7million in 2008, being left out of his squad, which are 11/4 to get a top-four finish.
“It must be really hard for him. He’s nowhere near kicking a ball,” the Spurs boss said of the ex Real Madrid defender. “I just couldn’t put him in my 25. It’s impossible at the moment.”
Woodgate has not played since last November because of a groin problem and Spurs, who used 30 men in the league last year, will need to trim numbers – possible hampering their 28/1 bid for an unlikely title triumph.
Ferguson’s dilemma is around whether or not to include injured midfield duo Owen Hargreaves and Anderson in the Manchester United squad, which are 2/1 to claim the Premier League.
Hargreaves has been plagued by knee problems since August 2008 and suffered a set-back recently, while Anderson is not expected to return from a cruciate ligament injury until late September.
Ferguson said: “I have to make a decision at some point and it depends on when I think those players can come back.”
Should Darren Fletcher indeed be the only dynamic midfielder in their ranks, United are at risk of losing the bite required to beat Newcastle United in the opening game (1/6).
The new rule greatest affects Manchester City (5/1 to win the league), Chelsea (13/8) and Liverpool (14/1), however.
City have only five of 38 players listed under 21, so eight senior men will be left out if still at the club come deadline. Those at risk include Craig Bellamy, Roque Santa Cruz and Stephen Ireland, meaning a top four spot (1/2) is still not guaranteed.
Cheslea have only four ‘home-grown’ players among their over 21s and if Carlo Ancelotti signs any more then Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira could be put in storage.
Roy Hodgson can list only five home-grown senior players in his squad so could be left three men down on the maximum 25. A top four spot, at 11/8, would be in serious jeopardy should that happen.
Squad lists cannot be renewed until January 1st but cup games don’t have this restriction. So with a brimming squad City still have a good 7/1 shout to win the FA Cup.