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Watching Ledley King galloping around the perimeter of the pitches at the training ground with considerable purpose, it is clear that he has the finishing line of his injury pain firmly in sight.

Watching Ledley King galloping around the perimeter of the pitches at the training ground with considerable purpose, it is clear that he has the finishing line of his injury pain firmly in sight.The skipper, absent since the Boxing Day encounter with Aston Villa with a case of bone stress in his left foot, is in the midst of a running programme to test the injury before hopefully very soon taking the next step and returning to the full training fold.

"At the moment I am just running every other day and in between that I'm doing bike work and swimming," reported the England international last week. "It is about building up my fitness without overloading the foot. It seems to be going well at this point, but I thought that last time as well, I was ready to come back then had a bad reaction. I'm taking it quite slowly now and hoping that my foot withstands it this time.

"I realise that after two months or so of being out that it is not going to be so easy for me to just jump back into training. I tried to come back last time after three or four weeks so this time I am that much further behind and have to do a bit more to build myself back up to the level of full training.

“We've spoken about it and I will spend next week running to pick up my fitness and, depending on how that goes, we will take it from there (see if I can step back into training from there)," he continued, before placing a tentative time frame on his return.

"If all goes well I hope to be back at some time in March (they think I could be back training in three or four weeks, but it could be quicker - or a little bit longer. We'll see)."

Ledley then went on to block a suggestion from the medics that his efforts in the swimming pool could well be worth a slot in front of the THTV camera...

"If the camera was coming there is no way I would be in the water! To be honest, I have surprised myself and have done better than I thought I would. One of the youngsters tried to do it the other day and got cramp after two lengths and had to jump out!

"I am sticking in there, I find it tough, but it is good fitness work. I can't say I enjoy it, but there are not too many black swimmers that I know so maybe there is hope for me..."

Ledley stepping out of the matchday tunnel again is likely to coincide with the business end of the season, hopefully timed with a push up the Premiership pecking order and progress in the UEFA and FA Cups.

"All the work we did earlier in the season is paying off now. We are getting closer to the prizes now and there are still big games to come. It will be a great time to be involved, unfortunately we lost to Arsenal in the Carling Cup semi-final, but we've still got the FA and UEFA Cup to look forward to and we are desperate to win one of them.

"To win something would ease the pain of missing out on a chunk of this season, to get some silverware is mine and everyone else's goal at the Club and we believe we can do it."

On the FA Cup front, last Monday saw our allocated No.8 ball drawn third last out of the pot and paired away to Chelsea - a tie that Ledley acknowledges as probably the toughest out there, but the sort of occasion players want to be involved in.

"I suppose you can't complain, it could have gone either way, but to get the champions makes it very difficult. The thing is with Chelsea, we have beaten them this season and there is a belief that we can do it again.

"It will be a great game to be involved in and hopefully we can get the right outcome.

"As a player you want to play against the best players, test yourself in the big games and produce the goods. They don't come much bigger than this, it will be a great spectacle and our fans will travel in their thousands. The atmosphere will be brilliant and we feel that whoever we play in the cup we can win against."

Ledley concedes that continued participation in all the cup competitions did take its toll on the bid to repeat and build on last season's improved league performance. It has been something of a step into the unknown for this group of players in battling on all fronts, but the 26-year-old does believe it has provided a valuable experience that the squad will be better for in forthcoming seasons.

"If you look back over the years Tottenham have traditionally been a cup team and there has not been too many times when we've been in the top five in recent times. I think the expectations from last season were rightly high and we all wanted to be involved heavily in everything this season.

"Our league form has been dented from that but it is a learning process for our young squad and I am confident that what we have learned from this season will stand us in good stead for the next. I am sure we will be better at juggling if we can stay in the UEFA Cup next season.

"It does take a bit of adapting to and it is a new thing for us. While we've tried our best, our league displays were not as good as we would have liked, but there are still games in the season for us to pick up points and finish as high as we can.”

"I am sure it can still be a great season."


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