Adebayor still an option for Spurs
Forgotten man Emmanuel Adebayor's road to redemption could start in the most unlikely of places on Thursday night, having travelled with Tottenham to a country that cannot be found on many a map.
The communist state of Transnistria has its own currency, police, army and border guards, although remains unrecognised by any sovereign nations.
To all intents and purposes, it is considered part of Moldova, whose football league Sheriff Tiraspol have won 11 times since 2000.
The team from the Transnistrian capital host Europa League favourites Tottenham on Thursday in a Group K match that could herald the return of Adebayor.
Having tried and failed to sell the striker in the summer, Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas ordered him to train with the club's development squad and gave him time off following the death of his brother in Togo.
Now back to fitness, Adebayor could make his first appearance of the season at the sold-out Stadionul Sheriff, where Aaron Lennon may start his first match after a foot injury.
Both have dropped down the pecking order after a summer of activity at White Hart Lane, but Villas-Boas rejected the notion that they need to prove their worth.
"He travelled," Villas-Boas said of Adebayor. "There is a chance he could be involved, but I'm not sure if he's starting or not.
"They don't need opportunities or chances. They're valued and they're great quality players. The difference from last year, I think, is the competition is higher.
"Last season we wouldn't rotate as much for this competition as we have so far. This is done because of the immense talent we have at our disposal.
"We can make six or seven changes now, which keeps the players fresh and motivated.
"There is always that chance they can break into the team, although both are established players and have been successful in the past."
Adebayor's chances of starting against Sheriff are restricted somewhat by the inclusion of Roberto Soldado and Jermain Defoe, who is one goal off Martin Chivers' European club record haul of 22.
Etienne Capoue, Danny Rose and Younes Kaboul were unable to travel to Eastern Europe as they step up their recovery from injury, while Villas-Boas, like in previous Europa League ties, has left several players back in London.
Kyle Walker and Paulinho have been rested after their international exertions, as has Andros Townsend after his heroics for club and country.
"It was just an opportunity to recover a little bit, and the squad is big enough," Villas-Boas said.
"We all recognise Andros is in an exceptional moment. The different thing we have this season from before is we have quality throughout, which allows us to do these things.
"Last season that wasn't the case. We had much less rotation and a small squad and, to some extent, we ended up paying the price when we had injuries to major players. That's the first difference.
"Then you judge the travelling and the amount of games and training sessions. These are all things we measure up, but the most important thing is we have the quality within our squad."
Villas-Boas has brought an abundance of attacking talent with him for the match, which could seal progress to the knockout stages if Anzhi's clash with Tromso ends in a draw and the north Londoners win.
While Group K always looked like it would be a cakewalk, qualifying with three games to spare would be an impressive feat in a competition the Portuguese won with Porto two years ago.
"It is very important for us [to get it wrapped up], particularly bearing in mind the Tromso trip, which is on an interesting type of pitch and extremely difficult weather conditions," he said.
"The idea will be, hopefully, to finish the qualification in these two games.
"We've had all these big trips but the motivation has been high. But the opponent is always difficult, and Sheriff have quality and experience, and we will have to fight against those qualities."
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