Tottenham Hotspur Look Ahead to Colchester United After Swindon Town Draw

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Tottenham Hotspur Look Ahead to Colchester United After Swindon Town Draw
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boa sits in the dugout at Swindon Town prior to his team's first preseason friendly.

The latest installment in Tottenham Hotspur's Sisyphean quest for the top four began in earnest on Tuesday evening with a 1-1 draw with Swindon Town.

Gareth Bale gave his team a first-half lead after latching onto Gylfi Sigurdsson's through-ball and blasting into the top corner. Swindon equalized with around 15 minutes left after Steven Caulker deflected Andy Williams' shot over a helpless Brad Friedel.

Next up for Tottenham's main squad (a younger XI take on Kingstonian on Thursday) is a trip to League One side Colchester United on Friday.

Obviously at this stage in his preparations for the upcoming campaign, manager Andre Villas-Boas will be more concerned with giving his players valuable minutes than worrying too much about the makeup of the team.

Talking to TottenhamHotspur.com following the Swindon draw, Villas-Boas emphasized the fitness-by-football nature of their summer programme: "We don’t stop now. The players have to be ready for tomorrow’s (Wednesday) session, then two sessions on Thursday and then back again to play on Friday."

Last year Spurs took on only one lower-league club before heading out on a tour abroad.

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Gareth Bale scored Spurs' only goal versus Swindon. He is likely to see some action against Colchester on Friday too.

Villas-Boas has indicated Friday's fixture will follow the format of the Swindon game, in which most of the traveling squad were given a half each. "We’ll continue to use 45-45 minutes to get everyone to a level that’s good for resistance, stamina and endurance."

Spurs' first match in the Barclays Asia Trophy against Sunderland (Wednesday 24) will likely see the Portuguese place more stock on his selections. Premier League opposition—there is also the prospect of potentially facing Manchester City in the competition's final—appropriately provides a more testing than usual examination for an preseason game.

But as with Swindon, Colchester will not just be about fitness. Villas-Boas came out of the County Ground admitting "we had some good moments, but also some things that we need to work on."

Converting chances will be one area in which Villas-Boas and Spurs fans will be keen to see some semblance of form developing.

The search for a new striker goes on, but several of the club's existing attackers were given an opportunity on Tuesday. Bale scored, Jermain Defoe went close a couple of times, while Jonathan Obika and Cristian Ceballos were also given run-outs.

Friday is also likely to provide another chance for several youngsters to impress alongside Spurs' senior players.

Midifelders Nabil Bentaleb and Laste Dombaxe, as well as defenders Adam Smith, Kevin Stewart and Zeki Fryers joined Obika and Ceballos in featuring against Swindon.

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Full-back Adam Smith in action against Swindon.

In some cases they may prove to be just making up the numbers. Yet in summers past, youth team products like Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll were given more of a look-in for the first-team squad after being able to showcase their talents alongside established teammates.

Colchester's own preseason took on a greater urgency on Tuesday with a 2-1 loss to West Ham United. It was the U's fifth friendly in a week, with the previous four resulting in consecutive wins against non-league opposition.

As well as being something of a "glamor" game for the third-tier club, Spurs will be a welcome test for a team looking to improve on last season, when they narrow avoided relegation with a win on the final day.

Manager Joe Dunne was appointed last September after Colchester failed to win any of their opening eight matches.

Even with the relative turnaround he inspired, the former U's player knew their staying up was a close call. Talking to BBC Sport on the day they confirmed their survival with a 2-0 defeat of Carlisle United, Dunne described it as "a life-changing day. Gladly we've come out of it intact."

Captained by long-term servant Kemal Izzet, brother of former Leicester City and Turkey midfielder Muzzy, Colchester also count a couple of new arrivals from Arsenal among their ranks.

Both Sanchez Watt and Craig Eastmond were on loan at the Weston Homes Community Stadium last season before joining permanently this summer. They also recently signed Chelsea defender Daniel Pappoe on loan until January.

At the Essex club too is former Republic of Ireland international Clinton Morrison. The 34-year-old endured a tough campaign in 2012-13, and will be keen to impress against Spurs as he seeks to make more first-team appearances this time around.

Weston Homes Community Stadium
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