Tottenham Hotspur: Assou-Ekotto Slams Naughton, Claims Left-Back Spot

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IJanuary 22, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05:  Carl Baker of Coventry is challenged by Benoit Assou-Ekotto of Tottenham Hotspur during the FA Cup third round match between Tottenham Hotspur and Coventry City at White Hart Lane on January 5, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

In comments to reporters on Tuesday, Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto claimed that fellow defender Kyle Naughton is no threat to his comeback to the squad's starting XI.

The Cameroonian has never been shy to say what he thinks, as evidenced by his statement some three years ago claiming that "I play for the money...Football is not my passion."

After an injury sidelined Assou-Ekotto for the past four months, the left back was replaced by England's Kyle Naughton, who is a natural right-back.

BAE made his Premier League return in Sunday's match against Manchester United, coming on as a substitute for Naughton on the hour.

In comments made to the Guardian after the match, Benoit made it clear that he expects to make a return to the starting lineup very soon, proclaiming a gap in class between him and Naughton.

He's not a real left back and I don't think he has the same left foot as me, so I'm not worried about that. I'm not worried because obviously I can do stuff with my left foot that he can't do.

To come back in the Premier League is quite hard because it's high-tempo but sometimes it's easier to play against Manchester United than against a team in the bottom half. I think it was a good game to come back in. My cross was OK.

Now, anyone who has followed Spurs for the past few months could tell you that Assou-Ekotto is speaking the truth. Naughton is not the same class as BAE at left back and it is great to see the Cameroonian return to the team.

However, it is a bit strange to see a player say anything even slightly negative about a teammate, even if his assessment is true. After all, it is easy to see a player losing his confidence when a teammate publicly questions his performance.

At the same time, though, it is refreshing to see a player speak his mind to the press. Further, from a Tottenham perspective, it is great to see BAE exuding confidence as he looks to return to the starting XI.

Expect a quick and strong return from Benoit Assou-Ekotto over the next few weeks, as he looks ready to flourish again.

More interestingly, though, it should be compelling to see how Kyle Naughton responds to the comments with his on-field performance and if it might cause any problems in the locker room.

What's most important in this situation is that the comments were correct and BAE should return to the starting lineup as soon as possible.