- Premier League
Parker: Injury a blessing in disguise
Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker has claimed his five months in the treatment room last year were a blessing in disguise, as his body needed time to recover from the battering it has taken in recent seasons.
Parker's fitness issues began to catch up with him long before he put his body on the line to play for England at Euro 2012 last summer and the 32-year-old midfielder has conceded the break he was forced to endure may work in his favour as he returns to peak fitness.
"I think my body needed that rest because I've played a lot of football for many years now and that was probably the longest I've been on the sidelines," Parker told the Tottenham website.
"I was out for five months, but I was in the gym every day for the best part of four months of that time, doing conditioning and strength work. I think the break has really done me good and I feel fit and sharp.
"I touch wood when I say it, because football can come around and bite you on the backside, but I feel really good. Now I'm looking to establish myself back in the team and push on from there. I've had a few games now and I'm raring to go and get right back into it."
Parker's return has been perfectly timed for Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas after he lost combative midfielder Sandro for the rest of the season due to injury, with the club's reigning Player of the Year emerging as the ideal man to fill the void left by the Brazilian in the heart of his midfield.
Meanwhile, Villas-Boas will have defender Jan Vertonghen back in his squad for the FA Cup fourth round tie at Leeds on Sunday after he missed last weekend's game against Manchester United due to illness, with goalkeeper Brad Friedel expected to return to the starting line-up in place of Hugo Lloris.