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Team News: Mourinho confirms Kane, Son, Sissoko will start against United

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But it’s not all roses and sunshine.

Tottenham Hotspur Training Session Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Jose Mourinho conducted his first pre-match press conference since mid-March today — via Zoom — ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s home match against Manchester United this coming Friday. The match has huge importance for Spurs and United, who are both trying to get off to a good start in order to secure fifth place and possibly Champions League qualification for next season with just nine matches remaining.

The COVID-19 shutdown has in many ways been good for Tottenham, as it has allowed players like Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, and Moussa Sissoko to recover from their respective injuries, which had ruled them out long term when football shut down due to the coronavirus. Mourinho was happy to report that all three of the above mentioned players are due to start tomorrow’s match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

As referenced above, it’s not all positive news. Mourinho noted that Giovani Lo Celso, one of Spurs’ newest signings who had emerged to shine in the period right before football shut up shop, is a doubt after Mourinho revealed that he was suffering a long-term injury sustained before isolation, and while he is unlikely to start, he could be a late substitution option against United.

“Yes. I can confirm that [he is a player struggling for fitness]. Gio, I consider to be one of the victims of the rules and one of the victims of the protocols, because he was injured in the end of the period before the coronvirus situation.

“He was in very bad conditions in the last three or four matches. He didn’t play against Burnley, he played for 10 minutes and then we tried to have him ready for Leipzig but he wasn’t even ready for Leipzig.

“Because of the rules his injury is not an injury in need for surgery but needed treatment and daily treatment, needed close contact with physios and fitness coaches working with him but that was not possible. For about two months he was injured and he couldn’t recover from it. So when the training ground opened and he started to have treatment, it was not enough to have him 100 per cent. So I’d say only in the past days he’s been training with the team.

Available for tomorrow, yes I think so. Tomorrow morning we will test if he is going to play 90 minutes. Is he going to start the game, I don’t know but a difficult process for him.”

Regarding Harry Kane, Mourinho was a big cagy. He said that Kane is working well and has fully recovered from his hamstring injury sustained on New Year’s Day, but appeared to try to temper expectations for Kane’s first match back since January.

“Harry Kane hasn’t played football for more than six months. So again, he is working extremely well. I can tell you no problem, he’s going to start the game. Does Harry have 90, 80, 70, 60 minutes, I don’t know.

“Only the game will tell us that. Is he on the top of his form? We don’t know. It’s not a little training session with our friends from Norwich that’s going to tell us the answer.

“But for him he’s around 6 months without playing a football match but he works extremely well. He’s an amazing professional and he’s going to start tomorrow.”

Mourinho went on to reference Jan Vertonghen, who is looking like he is almost certain to leave the club either at the end of June when his contract expires or at the end of the current Premier League season. The Spurs boss said that negotiations are continuing and no agreement has been reached yet but he is hopeful that they can hammer out a plan so that Jan can stay through the end of the current campaign.

“Jan is a fantastic guy, fantastic professional. His love for the club, his respect for the club, is never in doubt. Of course he’s committed with us, of course he’s ready to play tomorrow.

“We and him want him to be with us until at least the end of the season and hopefully Jan and his people and my club can agree that. But speaking now until the end of his contract, in the end of June, he’s here to help and of course we totally trust him.”

Spurs will also be without Japhet Tanganga, who injured his back in training, and Dele, who will miss the match due to suspension.