As Alan Hutton found himself driving up to Sunderland on the final day of the January transfer window, he must have wondered where his future lied.
The right back had appeared only 40 times for Tottenham in his two years at the club. Spurs had signed Vedran Corluka, Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker, all right back specialists, as well as Younes Kaboul, in his time at the club. He must have feared the worst.
Eleven games at Sunderland and he was back at Spurs. Reported moves to Birmingham and Sunderland failed to materialise and an autumn sat on the sidelines beckoned. But then, on September 18, as Kaboul pulled up with an injury as Wolves opened the scoring, Hutton seized his opportunity.
The very definition of an attacking full back, the former Rangers man followed the examples of Michael Dawson, Gareth Bale, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermaine Jenas and produced a performance that could resurrect his career in north London.
With Tottenham entering the final 20 minutes of the game 1-0 behind and the Wolves defence remaining resolute, Hutton ran fully 70 yards with the ball before being hauled down in the box.
The penalty was converted by Rafael van der Vaart, and Tottenham were level all thanks to the Scotsman’s drive and adventure.
This positive running was repeated in injury time as Hutton capitalised on some hesitant defending to score his first ever goal in English football, albeit with a huge slice of luck as an attempted clearance ricocheted off his shins and looped over Marcus Hahnemann in the Wolves goal.
Hutton, who will look to add to his 17 caps for Scotland over the international break, has added games against West Ham, Twente and Aston Villa since then. While Corluka and Kaboul recover from injury, Glasgow-born Hutton can cement his place in the third meanest defence in the Premier League.
When the latter two return to full fitness, Redknapp will be left with yet another selection headache. Hutton is the more attack minded of the right backs at the club, but unlike his two rivals he does not provide cover at centre back, a position which has proved problematic.
This could play into Hutton’s hands as Corluka and Kaboul may be deployed in the centre.
Injuries have hindered Hutton’s time at Tottenham. A fracture to his right foot did not heal and re-opened upon his return five months later.
That resulted in another six months spent on the sidelines, but with all those problems behind him Hutton has a real chance to secure a regular starting place in the Tottenham line up and become the latest player to save their Spurs career.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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