With no Premier League matches until next Wednesday when Tottenham Hotspur travel to Aston Villa, all eyes are turning to the two domestic cups. Most immediately, Spurs are hosting Championship side Brentford in the semifinals of the Carabao (League) Cup on Tuesday. However, according to David Hytner in the Guardian, Erik Lamela is one player who will not be featured in this match, and has been declared “not available” by Jose Mourinho.
“[Lamela is] not available. It’s not for me to tell you [why]. I just tell you that against Brentford he cannot play.”
Mourinho didn’t specify the reason, but it’s not hard to infer why. Erik was one of three Tottenham Hotspur players, along with Sergio Reguilon, Giovani Lo Ceso, and West Ham midfielder Manuel Lanzini, who were included in a leaked photo apparently violating COVID-19 lockdown protocols over the Christmas holidays.
The club and Mourinho have already addressed the situation, saying it would be “handled internally,” and both Lamela and Lo Celso have apologized for the incident. Spurs boss’ decision on Lamela is pretty strong corroborating evidence that being left out of the side to face Brentford is part of Erik’s punishment. Lo Celso is out injured, likely for the rest of the month and would miss the match anyway. Right back Matt Doherty will also miss the semifinal as he will serve his one-match suspension for earning two yellow cards against Leeds on Saturday.
Interestingly, things have been very quiet regarding Sergio Reguilon. He was an unused substitute for Spurs’ 3-0 win over Leeds on Saturday, and Hytner barely mentions him in this report and Mourinho hasn’t mentioned him at all apart from the “Portuguese piglet” incident. It could be that Reguilon is in the same situation as Lamela, or if Mourinho thinks he might be needed in the semifinal he could be on the bench again. It’s curious, but there could be extenuating circumstances that we don’t know about.
In addition to the Brentford match on Tuesday, Spurs also play at Marine FC in the FA Cup this weekend. While some change from the weekend is expected, it’s likely that Mourinho will opt to play a stronger side against the Bees, who are currently fourth in the Championship, before rotating heavily against the 8th tier Mariners (and their awesomely-sponsored shorts).