- Premier League
Vertonghen out for Christmas period
Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen could miss the entire festive period due to an ankle injury, according to reports.
Vertonghen sustained the injury during Spurs' 2-1 victory over Fulham last week and, although he tweeted that he hoped the injury was not too severe, the newspaper says an initial MRI scan suggested a ligament tear and a layoff of around four weeks.
The Belgium international, a centre-back by trade who has made a name for himself at left-back this season, has since had further tests and Spurs are reported to be optimistic that the prognosis is better than first thought but, with a congested fixture schedule ahead of the New Year, his absence is likely to pose problems for manager Andre Villas-Boas.
ESPN Best of 2013: Football
- We look at some of the best football stories of the year including Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement, Jose Mourinho's emotional return to Chelsea and Gareth Bale's world record move to Real Madrid.
- Read ESPN's Best of Football 2013
Meanwhile, Spurs centre-back Younes Kaboul has told L'Equipe it was "a real relief" to get back on the pitch and end a hellish year-long absence.
Kaboul, 27, was part of the Spurs' side demolished 6-0 by Manchester City a fortnight ago but, while the game proved a collective disappointment, it was a personal success for the France international, who had not featured in the Premier League since the opening game of the 2012-13 season due to a series of injuries
"I was injured for so long, I wondered whether they were going to ask me to sing in front of the whole squad as if I were a new signing," Kaboul joked. "To re-find my way of life, getting up in the morning to go to training, to be in the dressing-room with my team-mates, going to away games, it's a real relief. It's an eternity to not play for a year."
After missing Euro 2012 by opting to rest to remedy tendonitis in a knee, the former Portsmouth defender had to acknowledge the need for surgery on the problem early the following season.
"It was even difficult to climb the stairs. After the operation, no one told me exactly how long I'd be sidelined, probably to calm me down," said Kaboul, who returned with Spurs' reserve side in February this year only to suffer a thigh tear in his second outing at Manchester United.
"I was so annoyed I called a taxi that took me to the station. On the train, I was devastated. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I asked myself: 'Am I going to be able to play again before the end of the season?'"
He did feature again, but Kaboul set about ensuring he would get back to his best. He continued his work with Guy Puravet, physiotherapist and osteopath for the French under-21 side, and went to a specialised centre in Arnhem last June.
Once tipped as one of France's centre-backs of the future, Kaboul has not played for his country since picking up the last of his five caps under Laurent Blanc in October 2011.
Despite having fallen behind Laurent Koscielny, Eric Abidal, Raphael Varane and Mamadou Sakho in Didier Deschamps' plans for next summer's World Cup finals, the ex-Auxerre player still harbours hopes of featuring in Brazil.
"I've perhaps missed the boat, but I still have Les Bleus in mind," he said. "Of course I'd like to go, but I'm not going to make any plans after everything I've been through."
Download ESPN's new UK sport app, a fresh and powerful new way to follow your favourite UK sports news, scores and video.