LONDON /// Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, feels his much-criticised decision to sign William Gallas, the defender, from arch-rivals Arsenal, has been vindicated following the news that Michael Dawson will be out of action for up to three months. Dawson was taken off on a stretcher in agony after crumpling to the ground in the 56th minute of England's 4-0 win over Bulgaria in the opening match of their European Championship qualifying group on Friday night. Dawson was sent to see a medical specialist yesterday and it was confirmed that he had sustained medial ligament damage.
Many Spurs fans were disgruntled when Redknapp signed Gallas on a free transfer but they will now be relieved Redknapp has such an experienced international defender to replace Dawson, particularly with Jonathan Woodgate no nearer a return to fitness and Ledley King dogged by a chronic knee problem. "I always felt we needed experienced cover at centre half not least because of Ledley's situation," said Redknapp. "I know a lot of Spurs fans were not happy about Gallas because he previously played for Arsenal. But as I said at the time it's not as if he was an Arsenal icon like Tony Adams. And now we are without 'Dawse' for a while I think Spurs fans will soon be very glad we have Gallas in the squad."
Although Redknapp is fortunate to have three international defenders in Sebastien Bassong, King and Gallas, he is hugely disappointed to lose Dawson, the club's Player of the Year last season. "I am afraid it is not great news for Michael," he said. "It looked pretty bad at the time and yes he has suffered ligament damage to both knee and ankle. It is one of the injuries players fear most. But fortunately with the knee it has only been confirmed that it was damage to the medial ligament not the cruciate. If you suffer both that is very worrying and can put a player out for a long, long time. But players can make a much quicker recovery when it is just the medial ligament.
"As far as the ankle is concerned it doesn't seem too bad. That said he will be out for a few months that is for sure. It would be nice to think he could be back playing before Christmas but that will be going some. "The most important thing for the players and the club is to make sure he makes a full recovery and is not rushed back and runs the risk of having an adverse reaction then putting him out of the game even longer."
Redknapp did not blame the much-maligned Wembley pitch even though it seemed the slippery surface could have contributed to the damage Dawson suffered. "No, were not blaming the pitch. It just looked like one of those things. But I will see what Michael has to say about it," Redknapp said. The Engish Football Association will have to pay Dawson's £40,000 (Dh227,034) plus a week wages while he is sidelined. That, however, will be a small crumb of comfort for Spurs.