When Tottenham announced that one of their players was responsible for the only positive of the Premier League’s fifth round of coronavirus testing, some internet sleuths guessed that Japhet Tanganga was the affected party because of his alleged absence from training photos. Today, news broke of a real reason for Tanganga to sit out training: a stress fracture to his back sometime since the return to training. The story was first reported in The Telegraph, who suggest that Tottenham are optimistic about the timeline for his return.
Tanganga is certain to miss the Manchester United game, and will probably miss several more, which is unfortunate for the youngster’s breakout season but not a major blow to Tottenham’s prospects. Under Mourinho, Spurs have played in many back line configurations with and without Tanganga, so his absence won’t be a shock to the first team. Moreover, between Vertonghen (at least until June 30), Alderweireld, Sanchez, Foyth, Aurier, and Walker-Peters, Mourinho has plenty of fit defenders to fill out a back line. Hopefully, this will enable the team to manage Tanganga’s injury slowly and carefully, because more important than a few games in this season is the health of a young player who seems poised to ascend to greater heights in future years.
The University of Wisconsin Health website reports that spondylosis—a stress fracture of the lower back—is a common injury in young athletes, and can be treated by stabilizing and resting the lower back before slowly phasing in more strenuous movements. It sounds like Tanganga can be optimistic about a long-term return to fitness, but will need to be careful to avoid rushing back and aggravating the injury in the short term—Spurs fans will recall the negative impact a prolonged back injury had on Erik Lamela’s first season with the team. Even if he only misses a few games, Tanganga’s injury is a shame after he established himself as a raw talent on the rise in Spurs’ back line, but Mourinho has indicated that he will be part of Tottenham’s future, and with proper management, this injury seems unlikely to knock him off of that path.