The murky picture of what Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City will do about the FA Cup on Sunday has become a bit more clear. Both Mauricio Pochettino and Claudio Ranieri have an eye instead on Wednesday's league match and hence have indicated that they plan to rest key players in Sunday's match at White Hart Lane.
The Foxes will be without star Jamie Vardy, who opted to have minor groin surgery and will miss the Cup match, but who is expected to be fit in time for Wednesday. In addition, Leciester will be without Matty James and Jeffrey Schlupp, who are still recovering from injury. Even so, Ranieri suggested on Leicester's website that a few other key positions will be rotated.
When asked what side he is likely to field on Sunday, Claudio Ranieri told the media: "A blend of players. We will try to do our best. Our mentality doesn't change. We go there to win. If they are better than us, well done to Tottenham.
"For this reason I said I want to build a team. A team is all the group. It's like the League Cup, when we put the other players [in]. We will do the same. I'll put the players in who didn't play so far."
Fans can expect similar rotation from Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino first noted that there are no new injuries in the squad, but the expected names will not be available against Leicester this weekend.
Mauricio on TEAM NEWS: "@RyanMason and @mousadembele are very close but still out for Sunday." #COYS pic.twitter.com/WVc0sasVUl— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 8, 2016
Poche also strongly hinted that there will be some rotation in the side for the FA Cup, but Poche being Poche, refused to say what exactly that means. We can certainly expect that Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier will start, and it's also possible that Harry Kane will be rested for Son Heung-Min up top. Beyond that it's an open question as to whether we'll see players like Michel Vorm, Nabil Bentaleb, Kevin Wimmer, or Nacer Chadli against the Foxes on Sunday.
Both managers are obviously emphasizing the top-four league clash on Wednedsay and with good reason. Leicester has done enough that they should now be considered a direct rival for a Champions League position. A win on Wednesday in what is essentially a six pointer both puts Spurs in the catbird seat for qualification and also deals a major blow to Leicester in their bid to stay near the top of the table.
Even so, Spurs say they're taking the FA Cup seriously, even though it may not feature a full-strength side.
"It's not a distraction [the FA Cup]. It's the oldest competition in the world and we respect it a lot."
"We have a strong squad but we have come off a very busy period of Christmas. It's a good opportunity for some players that haven't played regularly in the Premier League to show their quality and fight for their place.
"It's not about resting players. After Christmas, it's very tough for the players. Some players believe they are fresh but it's not true. We need to be clever in our decisions. We need to analyse and we work hard every day to decide which players are fresh and want to play every game."