The last time we saw Toby Alderweireld on the pitch, he was limping off holding his hamstring in the big Champions League win over Real Madrid. That was on November 1. Now, two and a half months later, Spurs’ Belgian center back told Sky Sports News that he’s ready to return and contribute during one of Tottenham’s most important stretches of the season.
“I feel good. I feel fit. I’m strong. I feel ready to give 100 per cent again, like I always do. I worked very hard to come back to the training group as quickly as possible. Not one thing in my head is doubting about the injury.
”Now it’s up to me to prove that I’m ready again to the manager. It’s always up to the manager (if I play). I’m looking forward to give my all on the pitch.”
That is utterly fantastic news for Tottenham, who have missed Alderweireld during his two-month absence. Spurs are 9-3-3 in all competitions while Alderweireld has been sidelined, thanks to some very good performances by Davinson Sanchez, but Spurs have still missed his presence in the back line.
Obviously, the decision on whether to bring Toby back into the squad rests with Mauricio Pochettino, but this weekend’s FA Cup game at minnows Newport County would be an excellent opportunity to blood him in and give him some valuable on-pitch minutes.
Alderweireld’s return also gives Pochettino a tactical headache of the best kind: without him Spurs shifted from a back three formation to a 4-2-3-1 and they have played very well there. Toby’s return means that Poch has the tactical flexibility to mix things up a bit, whether that means a back three, or giving Davinson Sanchez (or Jan Vertonghen) a rest now and then.
Toby is one of the best center backs in the Premier League, and they will need him healthy and up to speed badly. After the FA Cup, Spurs have a midweek match vs. Manchester United, a trip to Liverpool, a North London Derby at Wembley Stadium, and a Champions League knock-out stage match at Juventus.
That schedule is scary, but it doesn’t awe Toby, who expressed confidence in his side’s ability to play well during that gauntlet.
“We can’t deny it’s going to be a very difficult and very important month. We have to just see, game by game, and fight to get three points in each match. Then we’ll see how far that brings us. But those are teams we have to beat, so why not?
”We’re going very well with Spurs in the last few seasons; getting top four every year and nearly winning the league. It’s up to us to have a better season in the Champions League too.”