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CAPTAIN SPEAKING

Posted on 11 August 2006  - 12:00

Ledley King expressed high expectations when it came to discussing our prospects for the new season, but warned climbing the next rung in the ladder of sustained improvement will be a far from easy process.

Ledley King expressed high expectations when it came to discussing our prospects for the new season, but warned climbing the next rung in the ladder of sustained improvement will be a far from easy process.

Last season represented quite a leap forward in terms of points banked and positional finish, with the natural aim being to take the next step up from the fifth place recorded. However, there are also quite a number of UEFA, Carling and FA Cup dates that the captain would like to circle on the fixtures calendar.

Cup football did not provide any lasting memories in season 2005-06, but the team put a marker down in the Premiership pecking order and the skipper believes we will be viewed as more of a scalp by other teams who could alter their approach when they take to the pitch at the Lane.

"I think this season is going to be tougher, I think teams realise we are a difficult side to beat - especially at home - and we've had a taste of sides making it awkward for us to play our game at White Hart Lane," reasoned Ledley, who will miss the beginning of the season with a knee injury.

"There is going to be more of that and, although we had a good season, the next one is always harder.

"We're aware of it and enjoying the fact that we will need to be at our best to get our rewards," he continued, adding the depth of the playing group could prove crucial when it comes to a hopefully extended fixture list.

"That is why we have got a good squad, we've got back-up in every position to cover and cater for any injuries. We're going to need all the players and it is going to take a big squad effort throughout the season.

"We will stick together and help each other."

The pre-season campaign - like last summer - has yielded some impressive results so far. Bordeaux, Nice, Celta Vigo, Stevenage and Inter Milan have been accounted for, with a draw against Borussia Dortmund and Real Sociedad to come.

Ledley suspects coming up against such opposition will serve the players well for when UEFA Cup football beckons, as well as building momentum for the beginning of the domestic season.

"You want to win the games you are playing in, winning breeds confidence and the type of teams we are playing are good European teams of the sort we will come up against in the UEFA Cup.

"We've dealt well with the different styles of play and it is a good learning experience for us.