Defeating Olympiacos tomorrow would send Spurs through to the next stage of the Champions League, at which point one assumes heads would turn quickly to Bournemouth on Saturday and Manchester United next Wednesday, two opportunities to build momentum in a Premier League season that feels painfully stalled at the moment. As the team prepares for three matches in eight days, Jose Mourinho will want to shore up Spurs’ European chances against Olympiacos rather than leave things to the final group stage game against the more formidable Bayern Munich, but he also must keep squad rotation in mind, given that finding form in the league is just as urgent as qualifying for the next round.
Fortunately, Tanguy Ndombele and Jan Vertonghen have both returned to training. Mourinho has suggested that Vertonghen won’t feature immediately upon his return to training after a hamstring injury that kept him out since October, but might be selected for the match after. Ndombele’s groin injury seemed less serious, and he didn’t play for France in the international break, so although there has been no word on whether he’s match ready, the fact that he’s back in training should leave fans optimistic.
Ben Davies was substituted on the 75th minute in Spurs’ game at West Ham on Saturday, having picked up an ankle injury. Lloris, Lamela, and Vorm remain out, Lloris for the long term after dislocating his elbow against Brighton on October 5th. Lamela and Vorm hopefully have shorter-term rehabilitation periods, but no word on when we can expect to see them again.
Keeping the squad healthy will be crucial as the fixture-packed winter period approaches, and Vertonghen and Ndombele are two players whose spots in the first team are undeniable when they’re fully fit. Nobody has shown Ndombele’s brilliance in his time on the bench, so he will be confident of a hasty return. Vertonghen, on the other hand, has been in shaky form this season, but it’s not clear that Davinson Sanchez has made a strong enough case to usurp Vertonghen in the central defense pecking order. All in all, an encouraging update ahead of a period of games from which Spurs need dominant victories.