If it feels like Giovani Lo Celso might never return from injury to play for Tottenham Hotspur this season you’re not alone. The Argentinian attacking midfielder has been out for the whole of 2021 nursing a serious hamstring injury that he picked up against Wolves in late December.
And although we’ve seen pictures of a happy Gio training with the Spurs first team, his manager Jose Mourinho isn’t ready to risk him in an actual competitive football match just yet. Speaking to the media ahead of Thursday’s Premier League match against London rivals Fulham, Mourinho stated that he has everyone available for selection against the Cottagers, but Gio still will still not play.
“[Gio is] training with the team but [it’s] a big injury,” he added. “We’re not going to risk [him] yet. In fact we don’t want to risk, we’ll bring him to the team when he is OK. Maybe one or two more weeks. Everybody else [is] OK.”
On the one hand I’m perfectly fine with making sure that a player as important to Tottenham as Lo Celso gets the recovery and match fitness required to prevent another injury — that’s a sensible decision, especially when the team is finally starting to round into something resembling form.
On the other hand, Mourinho flat-out lies about injuries all the freakin’ time, so part of me expects Gio to be on the bench tomorrow night because this is just part and parcel of Mourinho’s opposition mind games. We’ve seen it before, right?
One player who WILL be involved one way or the other is Gareth Bale. Mourinho also said in his comments that Welsh Jesus will be part of the team, though he hedged as to whether he’d start on Thursday or be on the bench, especially with another important match against Crystal Palace coming up on Sunday.
“I think [Bale will feature]. Starting or starting on the bench I don’t know. He’s a very experienced player. Good reaction though.”
Spurs will kick-off against Scott Parker and the Cottagers Thursday at 1:00 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. GMT.