Is it time for Jonathan Woodgate to retire?

Down but not out yet for Jonathan Woodgate of Tottenham HotspurSpurs and their fans witnessed perhaps one of the greatest victories in the clubs history as Peter Crouch’s goal gave them the advantage in their Champions League tie with AC Milan.

In a feisty match, a substitute appearance from Jonathan Woodgate seized the attention of fans and neutrals. It was no surprise that after the game it was revealed he had suffered another muscle strain, this time it was his adductor.

As a player, his ability at centre back is of the highest quality but it is easy to argue injuries have plagued the majority of his career rather than football.

For a career stretching over 13 years, 277 appearances is a clear indication it has been ruined by injuries and the debate on whether it is time to call it quits arises once again. In his last two seasons at White Hart Lane Woodgate has managed only four appearances and in the four years he has been there, 44 of his 65 appearances came in one season. In those 13 years, only four have really amassed a standard amount of games (30 plus games).

But it is not only Spurs who have suffered the predicament of paying wages for a player who for the majority, doesn’t play. Starting out at Leeds the first two years set up what may have been a great career.

77 appearances in two seasons saw great times for the centre-back but after that, serious injuries marred his career. However he still managed to make 103 appearances at the club in five seasons, which in comparison to his other clubs, is a great contrast.

After financial troubles led to his sale in 2002, Newcastle were looking to have benefited in a deal worth £9 million. Again injuries restricted the defender to just 37 appearances in two seasons but despite being injured, Real Madrid came into to take him to Spain.

His first season in La Liga was his worst to date as he didn’t make a single appearance, struggling with injuries he stayed another year making 12 appearances.

After finally appearing to see the back of string of knee problems Woodgate’s loan move to hometown Middlesbrough revived his career and with 37 appearances in one season, his fitness concerns died down.

Again though more problems occurred and after making just 16 appearances it looked like his career may have a premature ending. Although it does seem shocking, clubs seemed to see his ability as more than enough to justify his purchase.

In 2007 Spurs became the 4th club to take what can only be called a huge gamble on the stopper. With one full season without any blips, it hasn’t seemed to have paid off.

The injuries moved into his hamstrings and groins and after surgery at the start of the current season, it was seen by many has his last chance. Now he has an injury in the same area, surely he can not recover.

Incredibly manager Harry Redknapp is still keen to offer the injury-prone defender a new contract. It seems the boss is adamant Woodgate can return to his best despite failing so far. Along with Ledley King, the duo could be considered as very lucky.

The decision on his career ending can now be left to the player himself, whilst the choice to fight on seems obvious, the amount of psychological damage already done may be a factor. People do say ‘only a player knows when it is time’ as Gary Neville has demonstrated.

Although it is a complex situation and decision to deal with, it can only go two ways and they are success and failure. However with his track record, it doesn’t seem any amount of injuries will keep him out of the game completely.

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