When a manager has a choice of defenders to choose from, there are always going to some that miss out, regardless of their capability or potential. At present, Tottenham Hotspur head coach Andre Villas-Boas appears to have found his favoured starting centre-back pairing in Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson.
The duo act as the perfect foil for one another, with the former the continental, ball-on-the-deck defender, while the latter is the no nonsense, heart on his sleeve centre-back. With William Gallas showing cracks in his armour and beginning to show his age with numerous below par performances and Younes Kaboul still sidelined, it gives the duo an opportunity to forge a solidified partnership in the heart of the back line.
However, one man that is missing out as a result is young Steven Caulker. The centre-back came into the first team earlier this season after it emerged that Kaboul's knee injury was worse than initially feared and after a successful loan spell with Swansea City last year, many had tipped the 21-year-old to break into the Spurs starting XI as the campaign progressed.
Dubbed the heir to Ledley King's throne, his early performances showcased glimpses as to why he deserved the label. Cool, calm and composed on the ball, while churning out performances reminiscent of the Spurs hero, Caulker had been expected to really challenge for a place in Villas-Boas' side.
While his early displays were enough to leaves fans salivating as to his potential to succeed at White Hart Lane, the defender has recently fallen down the pecking order in north London following two costly errors that led to goals during the win over West Ham United and defeat at the hands of Everton at Goodison Park.
Not to mention his erratic and, frankly, abysmal performance against Leeds United in the FA Cup and you can understand why Villas-Boas has refrained from calling upon the defender in recent weeks, with Gallas preferred to the youngster on the bench during the recent win over West Bromwich Albion.
Nevertheless, at his age Caulker has plenty to offer to Spurs and the potential to succeed with the club. His mistakes undoubtedly came as a result of lack of experience, an aspect of his game that will improve with time. Unfortunately, however, with Dawson and Vertonghen the preferred centre-back pairing to Villas-Boas, his starting opportunities will be, for the time being, limited to sporadic run outs in the Premier League or the Europa League.