The matches keep coming for Tottenham Hotspur, and as they head into a London derby against West Ham this Saturday, they’ll again need to dig deep into their bench to field a starting XI. Spurs released their team news via social media, and the five players that have been unavailable for a while now remain unavailable: Mauricio Pochettino will be without Harry Kane, Serge Aurier, Harry Winks, Erik Lamela, and Moussa Sissoko against the Hammers.
TEAM NEWS:— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 26, 2019
- continuing on-field rehabilitation and remain unavailable.
@HKane (ankle) - undergoing rehabilitation.#PL ⚪ #COYS pic.twitter.com/A2vP06yBui
It’s pretty much what we expected, but fans were holding out hope that Winksy or Lamela might have made enough of a recovery to come in for this match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Alas. In his press conference today, Poch talked a little about Lamela and how disappointed Erik is with his injury status again this season.
“We feel the same. [Erik], his family, us, the club, everyone. We feel very sad about his situation today. He is very disappointed, we are disappointed. In the end it’s only a situation that we can be strong, thinking and try to find solutions and help him and him in the same way trying to find solutions and be open to improve, try to be fit and try to help the team.
“It’s true that in that moment, when we have the most important period of the season, when you need all the squad fit to help and achieve what you want, it’s true that it’s hard to have him, a player who is important and can help the team achieve those things, out of the squad. But we hope he can be available before the end of the season.”
If you want a glimmer of hope, Winksy is continuing on-field rehabilitation, so there’s perhaps a small chance that he might be available in the Champions League semifinals against Ajax. But at this point the chance of Winksy featuring as anything beyond perhaps a substitute role feels remote. Poch also briefly touched on Winks and Kane as they work to try and be available for a hypothetical Champions League final.
“They are okay. They are both so motivated to recover as soon as possible. With all that we’re playing today in the period that we are it’s so difficult for the players to be out. For Lamela, for Serge Aurier, Harry Kane, Harry Winks and Moussa, it’s so difficult because it’s such an exciting moment for the club and team and you need to see yourself outside of the squad and not involved in the games.
“It’s so tough, so sad for them, but all together we try to keep pushing them, helping them, being focused because I think they can arrive if we have some luck and perform in the way that we want, maybe all these players that we’re talking about today they have the possibility to play before the end of the season and that is a massive motivation. They must think that they can help the team to finish the season.”
Pochettino also made me feel extremely smart about my predicted lineup post yesterday, when he all but confirmed that young Argentine defender Juan Foyth would reprise his role as backup right back against West Ham. Foyth was a surprise starter at that position against Manchester City in the Premier League match, and looked surprisingly good considering it wasn’t his natural position.
“Yes. I think yes [Foyth will play at RB]. I think he was very good. He played so well. The signal that he’s giving us in the training sessions, you can see and you can feel and you can trust him in that position.”
A win tomorrow, combined with Arsenal and Chelsea losses on Sunday, would clinch Spurs’ status in the top four for this season and would ensure Champions League participation for the fourth straight year. But first they have to win, and Poch said that the West Ham match is his first and primary goal.
“The priority is tomorrow. I promise you. I promise that my focus and interest is in tomorrow. I don’t think about Tuesday. Of course we can talk about [Ajax] but my focus is on tomorrow. We need to get the three points.
“To be focused on the three points and not thinking of anything else is going to be tough. We know very well and how important it is to get in the top four, it’s going to be a massive achievement. Also if you win it’s better to arrive to go to play in a Champions League semi-final with good feelings. Maybe a bit tired, but in a good mood and good energy is better than being fresh and arrive in a bad mood, not in a good dynamic.
“That is why tomorrow, if someone is listening to me now, players or fans, think about tomorrow, not another day. Tomorrow must be the most important thing. Don’t worry because we need to take the best decision, we need to put fresh legs, fresh minds and those who are not in their best mind tomorrow are going to be on the bench or outside the squad. We’re going to take the best decision to be sure that we compete in our best tomorrow.”