Tottenham Hotspur got a big win on Saturday over Huddersfield, one that gave them 15 points from seven matches and puts them in fourth place in the table. However, it potentially came with a cost, one that could give Spurs problems ahead of their biggest match to date — Wednesday’s Champions League match vs. Barcelona at Wembley Stadium.
Mauricio Pochettino was forced into a rare double substitution at halftime, taking off Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele when both players experienced muscle injuries. Vertonghen spent some time being treated early in the match but was able to continue until halftime.
Pochettino now faces the prospects of having both players unavailable against Barcelona, when it was possible that both would otherwise start. Spurs journalist Ben Pearce managed to speak to Vertonghen after the match, and the short exchange wasn’t exactly promising.
#thfc Jan Vertonghen just limped past and said "I felt something". I asked hamstring? He nodded. Barcelona? "Hopefully," he said but didn't look very confident.— Ben Pearce (@BenPearceSpurs) September 29, 2018
In the post-match press conference, Pochettino said he wasn’t sure if either of them would be ready to go by Wednesday.
“We need to assess [Vertonghen and Dembele] tomorrow and after tomorrow, we’ll see. I cannot say whether they’ll be available for Wednesday. I don’t know.
“We don’t know, because the players feel some muscle problem. But they don’t know if they got a knock or they feel something different. That is why it is so difficult now to tell you what is going on.”
Pochettino also confirmed yesterday’s breaking news that Dele Alli would be out for an unknown amount of time after re-injuring the hamstring that led to his early withdrawal from international duty with England a few weeks ago.
“I don’t know [how long Dele will be out], because he re-injured the same muscle that he got with England against Spain. That is the problem that is now so important to be relaxed and calm.
Vertonghen and Dembele are now part of a distressingly long injury list for Tottenham as they prepare to host one of the best and most decorated teams in Europe. Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris also missed the Huddersfield match and are questionable for Wednesday. Backup keeper Michel Vorm is also questionable, and Serge Aurier is out indefinitely with a thigh injury.
Spurs still have plenty of talent at their disposal — Davinson Sanchez can go if Vertonghen is out, and the return of Victor Wanyama, Harry Winks, and Moussa Sissoko will help in the event that Dembele doesn’t recover in time. More critical would be if Eriksen isn’t available — Spurs got a win at Huddersfield without Christian or Dele, their two best creative playmakers, but going up against Barcelona is an entirely different challenge. There’s nothing we can do except wait and hope that a few of the borderline players are cleared to play.