Why Scott Parker's Return Can Secure Spurs a Champions League Spot Next Season

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  Scott Parker of Tottenham Hotspur runs with the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur at Loftus Road on January 12, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

On December 16, Scott Parker made his season debut for Tottenham Hotspur, and ever since, he has been finding more playing time under manager Andre Villas-Boas. 

Parker was used as a substitute in the next four EPL matches for Spurs. His fifth appearance as a substitute, against QPR on January 12, came earlier than expected, as Sandro was struck down with an injury. 

Sandro had been one of the most consistent players in the Tottenham, and the North London club needed a quick replacement to step into his spot in the midfield.

In stepped Parker, who, under former manager Harry Redknapp, made 29 appearances last season and earned a spot in the England squad for Euro 2012. 

While he was with the England squad, Parker suffered the Achilles injury that would cost him the first half of his club season. 

Parker filled the spot in the central midfield alongside Moussa Dembele in Tottenham's 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday. 

The 32-year-old did nothing spectacular during his 80 minutes on the pitch, but he also did not do anything to cost Spurs the match. 

With all that being said, the real question that arises about Parker's re-entrance into the starting 11 is can he help Spurs hold on to their fourth-place position in the EPL table and advance to next season's edition of the UEFA Champions League?

Currently, Tottenham sit three points ahead of Everton and four points ahead of Arsenal, also lurking in the distance are Liverpool and West Brom, who are both seven points behind Spurs at the moment. 

With Parker taking the place of Sandro in the center of the Tottenham midfield, he will have to form a partnership with Dembele, whose pairing with Sandro was one of the best in the EPL this season. 

Parker enters the Spurs lineup with plenty of EPL experience, and he should provide plenty of veteran leadership to a defensive backbone that does not contain a consistent starter over the age of 30.

The oldest member of the Spurs defense is William Gallas at 35, but he has not featured in the squad since Boxing Day due to a calf injury.

However, a spot in the starting lineup may not be guaranteed for Gallas with the form of Michael Dawson at the moment. 

Parker will be the oldest player in the starting 11, and his experience will be a welcome addition to the lineup.

The 32-year-old Englishman possesses some of the same qualities in the defensive midfield as Sandro. The only real difference between the two is a five-inch height difference. 

Parker's strong passing skills will help him link up with the attacking midfielders and wingers in the Tottenham lineup, while his defensive prowess will compliment the attack-minded Dembele well in midfield. 

Of course, with any midfield duo, it is all about chemistry, and if Parker and Dembele can connect just like Dembele did with Sandro, Tottenham will continue on their winning ways without missing a beat. 

The only two factors that will keep Parker out of the starting 11 will be an injury problem or the potential early arrival of Lewis Holtby from Schalke (per David Hytner of the Guardian), a move that would permanently move Parker to the bench. 

If he can avoid injury and Schalke blocks Holtby's early move to White Hart Lane, there should be no doubt that Parker can help lead Tottenham to qualify for their second Champions League in four seasons. 

Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.