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Full strength Spurs keep Dempsey on bench

Jan 12, 2013, 7:50 AM EDT

Tottenham Hotspur's Dempsey scores a goal against Panathinaikos during their Europa League soccer match in London Reuters

At some point, this is no longer news, but since a groin injury obscured things between Clint Dempsey’s last league start (all the way back on December 16) and now, it’s been a bit unclear where the U.S. international falls in Tottenham’s pecking order. Even coming off the bench, there’s still some debate as to where “Deuce” sits on the depth chart, but with Spurs’ return to full strength pushing Dempsey out of André Villas-Boas’s starting XI for today’s match at Queens Park Rangers, there’s little doubt Tottenham’s switch to a 4-4-2 formation has landed the American on the bench.

On New Year’s Day (Spurs’ last league game), Gareth Bale’s suspension opened a spot in Tottenham’s starting lineup, though Dempsey wasn’t given the nod. Instead, Icelander Gylfi Sigurdsson started. That could have been due to Dempsey’s recovery from a groin injury (though he had featured against Sunderland the previous game). It could have also been a reward to Sigurdsson who (like Dempsey) has recovered from a slow start to the season.

At Loftus Road, Villas-Boas has Bale back. More notably, he also has Emmanuel Adebayor, who committed then uncommitted to Togo for this month’s Africa Cup of Nations (latest reports have him going after today’s game). Along with forward Jermain Defoe and winger Aaron Lennon, Villas-Boas has his full complement of attackers available. Thus, both Dempsey and Sigurdsson are on the bench.

We’ve covered this ground before. Just because Dempsey isn’t in the starting XI doesn’t mean he’s not going to get significant time. Spurs are still alive in the FA Cup, and with a former Europa League winner managing the team, you can be certain Tottenham will take their European commitments seriously. They have a home-and-home with Olympique Lyonnais next month.

With two goals off the bench over the last month, Dempsey’s still capable of contributing, but having started in 12 of his 16 league appearances before today’s game, Deuce will have to continue adjusting to a new role. Villas-Boas’s continued use of a 4-4-2 means Dempsey’s most likely role is one of super sub.

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