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Tottenham’s plan for a massive week of fixtures has been disrupted through injury.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was hoping to have defender Toby Alderweireld in place for the Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday as well as Sunday’s north London derby against Arsenal, but reports in the Mirror and Telegraph on Monday suggest that he is almost certain to miss the first game, and is facing a losing battle to be fit for the second.
In fact, he may not even be fit for Belgium’s next two matches, a friendly against the Netherlands on November 9th and a World Cup qualifier against Estonia four days later.
Alderweireld has not played since coming off with a knee injury in Tottenham’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on October 15th. Since then, they have failed to win a match, drawing three and losing one.
Pochettino’s side are looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the Premier League season, as well as increase their chances of securing early progress to the next round of the Champions League, so to have such a vital defensive cog as Alderweireld absent will be a huge loss to them.
In the Belgian international’s absence, Eric Dier is likely to continue to partner Jan Vertonghen in the centre of defence as he has done for the past few games.
The pair has conceded only one goal in their three games together since Alderweireld’s injury, but Spurs have had trouble scoring.
Although he did not damage his ligaments, Alderweireld’s recovery has been slower than what was initially hoped and the Belgian had still not trained with the ball last week.
Tottenham have netted only three times in their last five games since beating Manchester City, but Vertonghen believes the attacking styles of Leverkusen and Arsenal will suit them better.
On the Arsenal clash, Vertonghen said: “Normally we do well against teams like that. It will be a very intense game, with both teams playing positive, attacking football.
In more positive news, Harry Kane could be set to feature this weekend. The star striker has not played since coming off in Tottenham’s 1-0 against Sunderland in the middle of September with an ankle ligament injury but has returned to training.
Although Pochettino is adamant that Kane will not be rushed back into action to alleviate the side’s goalscoring troubles, it would not be a surprise to see him at least make the bench at the Emirates on Sunday.