Tottenham Hotspur's first match in the 2015-16 Europa League competition is this Thursday as they host Azerbaijani league champions Qarabag FK at White Hart Lane, but they'll need to do so without a few key midfielders. Spurs journo Ben Pearce tweeted today that three of Spurs' key midfield contributors are continuing to rehab from recent injuries and will not feature, and it was later confirmed by manager Mauricio Pochettino.
#thfc Mason, Eriksen and Dembele are out of action for tomorrow's Europa League game.— Ben Pearce (@BenPearceSpurs) September 16, 2015
Mauricio on @EuropaLeague team news: "@ChrisEriksen8 is close but still out. @RyanMason & @mousadembele also out." pic.twitter.com/GoiAdp3mfs— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 16, 2015
This isn't altogether surprising news. Ryan Mason was stretchered off the pitch on Sunday after injuring his knee while scoring the winning goal against Sunderland, and we've heard nothing about Mousa Dembele for a while now. Pochettino calling Eriksen "close" is encouraging, as we've received precious little information about his status over the past few weeks either. Spurs pretty desperately need him back if they're going to be at all competitive for the Champions League places this season.
One central midfielder who was not mentioned was Nabil Bentaleb, who reportedly has an arm injury and was not in the squad for last Sunday's league match. His exclusion from the injury news makes it tempting to pencil him in against Qarabag on Thursday as he starts to regain match fitness. NOPE! A further tweet (which I missed) states that Bentaleb is out at least two more weeks:
Mauricio: "@nabilbentaleb42 is out maybe two weeks more. We need to assess him as well, have patience and the same with @RyanMason."— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 16, 2015
If we operate under the assumption that Eric Dier will be rested for Sunday's home tie with Crystal Palace, then it stands to reason that the likes of Tom Carroll and Harry Winks will likely feature in some form or another on Thursday, and many Spurs fans are also hoping to see players like Alex Pritchard, Clinton N'jie, and Kevin Wimmer. However, if last year is any indication, Poche could roll with a more than a few first teamers in the starting 11 to make sure that Spurs get off to a good start in their Europa League campaign.