Ledley King proved in last weekend's Barclays Premier League victory over Wolves exactly what he brings to the Tottenham team when he's fit, and is confident that he can play an integral part in Spurs' bid to bring UEFA Champions League football back to White Hart Lane next season.
The 30-year-old defender turned in a typically accomplished performance at the heart of Harry Redknapp's defence, and has set his sights on an extended run in the first-team.
King's knee problems have been well documented, but the injury-plagued campaign the club captain suffered last year was down to a recurring groin injury that limited him to just nine league appearances.
"It was a total nightmare last season trying to get the groin right," he said. "I worked hard over the summer and coming into this season, it feels a lot better than it did.
"I hope I'm just back to concentrating on looking after the knee now and hopefully nothing else will crop up. If I can just manage the knee, there is no reason I can't play quite regularly. I've played one game, so I don't want to talk too much about what might happen but at the moment, I feel fine.
"Anyone who's had injury problems would tell you that it's really difficult to get out of your head what might be around the corner. I don't want to jinx myself but I should be fine for the next game and hopefully for the remainder of the season."
Tottenham's hopes of a return to the UEFA Champions League next season could hang largely on the probable fitness of King, after the recent injury to vice-captain Michael Dawson, further depleted Redknapp's defensive options.
But King also pointed to three key summer signings, saying the addition of Emmanuel Adebayor, Scott Parker, and goalkeeper Brad Friedel to the ranks, has revived a squad that had begun to look jaded.
"Emmanuel will bring something different to the team," he added. "You can see in training that he has a bounce in his step, which will rub off on other players and make the mood better. Scotty was brilliant at Wolves as well.
"They have different qualities to the players we've let go, so it's something fresh. We needed to freshen up a little bit. We'd played with the same group of players for a while and it was important to bring some new faces in to give us something different.
"Does the club need Champions League football? Of course it does and there is no reason why we can't finish in the top four this season.
"Having had the taste of it and done well in the tournament last year, the players felt like we belonged there so there is no reason why we shouldn't be striving for that again.
"Most of the teams have spent good money improving their squads so it's going to be tough and there are probably five or six teams who all aim to finish in the top four.
"We're confident in the squad we've got, though. It's one of the best in the Premier League and it's up to us to try to get there now."
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