Despite photos of Sergio Reguilon training with Tottenham Hotspur’s first team that emerged today, his manager Jose Mourinho says that he’s not ready play football. Mourinho said that Reguilon’s not quite ready to go ahead of Thursday’s Europa League first leg against Austrian side Wolfsberger AC, but left open the possibility that he could feature in this weekend’s Premier League match at West Ham.
“No, [Sergio] is not coming, is not coming. No setback. Just the process is not going as fast as initially we thought. But no setback. So let’s see. Let’s see. Weekend, next Europa League match next Wednesday, let’s see.”
Before this past weekend’s match against Manchester City, Mourinho had also ruled out Giovani Lo Celso so it seems equally likely that the midfielder won’t feature tomorrow as well.
Notably, Serge Aurier was not mentioned, raising the possibility that he could return against Wolfsberg.
(EDIT, 11:15 am ET: Strike that, turn it around, reverse it.)
Jose Mourinho not expecting Serge Aurier back from injury for the next three Spurs games. Sergio Reguilon might be back for Sunday or the Europa League second leg. Giovani Lo Celso remains out.— Alasdair Gold (@AlasdairGold) February 17, 2021
Mourinho was also asked about Joe Hart, who had been Tottenham’s starting keeper in the Europa League group stages, and the possibility that Hart could be benched for Hugo Lloris for tomorrow’s match, who has had an extremely tough week marred by several costly keeping errors. Tottenham’s boss was quick to defend both of his keepers, but hinted that Hugo was indeed likely to be his choice tomorrow.
“When a player is a top player, it’s not because of one mistake or two or three that means he’s not a top player again. That’s the most important thing. I shouldn’t speak about it because he’s not my goalkeeper, but I don’t think he will take it in the wrong way. For me Alisson is one of the top five best goalkeepers in the world and in the last couple of matches, not yesterday, but in the matches before he’s made big mistakes but he’s is one of the top five goalkeepers in the world.
“Hugo is the same, he is an amazing, amazing goalkeeper that is performing super consistently. Since he recovered from that fracture, since my time here, he is playing so, so well. If he had responsibility in one or another goal we conceded recently, he’s still the same goalkeeper. He’s my No. 1 choice and he has all my trust and my confidence.
“In Joe Hart’s case, I’m also happy. He played already, if I’m not wrong, nine matches this season which is more, If i’m not wrong, than what he played in the previous two seasons. So in half of the season here I believed he played more matches than in the previous two seasons. Which is very, very good. He’s also a goalkeeper I totally trust, too.”
Due to ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions, Tottenham will not play tomorrow’s match, ostensibly an away tie, in Austria but rather at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary, the stadium that also played host to Liverpool’s Champions League match against RB Leipzig yesterday. The distinction may be somewhat minimal considering that playing matches behind closed doors has more or less negated the home field advantage this season, but Mourinho still expects a good challenge from the Austrian Bundesliga side, and is taking the match extremely seriously.
“The only thing I can say is that I deeply respect [Wolfsberg] and I analysed so many matches in the Europa League and in the Austrian League because I respect them. Some people can forget, but I don’t, because I have played recently against CSKA Moscow and Feyenoord, so to be able to beat Feyenoord the way they did it and to beat CSKA in Moscow the way they did it tells a lot about the potential of the team. We played recently another Austrian team [LASK] that brought us into the analysis of the league and the profile of the teams and the players and I deeply respect them.
“I knew a couple of the players before but now I know them all and that is the utmost respect you can give to an opponent to say that now I know them all. I have watched them in so many matches. It is not going to be easy for us but it is our responsibility and our motivation, not just to win the tie, which is the most important, the most important thing is next Wednesday night we qualify. We are going to try and win both matches and qualify with some security. That is the ambition for tomorrow.”
The match kicks off on Thursday at 12:55 p.m. ET, 5:55 p.m. GMT at the Puskas Arena in Budapest.