Our long international break nightmare is finally over! Rejoice! Tottenham Hotspur are set to travel NORF to face Newcastle United on Sunday, and Jose Mourinho just finished his usual pre-match press conference. The bad (if you want to call it that) news is that Matt Doherty and Ben Davies are both still recovering from injury and won’t be available for selection. But the good news is that Son Heung-Min and Sergio Reguilon, both dealing with knocks of their own, are back in the frame to feature against Toon.
Here’s Mourinho when asked about Sonny.
“Yeah. [Son] will be selected. Yep. He was injured. He trained with the team fully for the first time this morning. Yesterday he was coming to do partial exercises, not a complete session. This morning was the first time he did it and last week he didn’t train at all. So it was completely impossible for him to play in the international period.
“It would have also been impossible to play if the game was yesterday or Tuesday, so this time was a good time for him to recover from injury. So at the moment we have Doherty and Ben Davies out and apart from that everyone is fit.”
That makes it sound as though Sonny’s only barely back from his injury and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could start on the bench against Newcastle. However, we also know that Mourinho lies about injury news all the time, so would anyone be surprised if he’s thrown right back into the fire? I wouldn’t.
With Spurs’ Champions League hopes now riding on finishing top four, Spurs will need to take care of business against the bad teams (like Newcastle). To that end, Mourinho refused to be drawn into speculation on the overal season expectations, saying that he’s focusing one match at a time, starting with Sunday’s match against Toon.
“I’m confident that we can win on Sunday. Then on Monday if you ask me I will be confident that we can win against Manchester United next week. I can repeat to you after every match the ambition and the confidence to win the next match.
“To reach a Champions League position I don’t think we depend on ourselves. We depend also on results from other teams. I’m not going to say we are going to do it or not going to do it. We are going one game at a time and the last season was a very good example.
“We were quite a distance, we had a big distance to the top six positions and in the end, in the last minute of the last match we confirmed that position and we have to go in that direction.”
Mourinho also had some good words to say about young utility defender Japhet Tanganga, who impressed both in Spurs’ last match against Aston Villa and while on international duty with England’s U21 EURO campaign, which ended with a group stage exit. Mourinho praised Tanganga’s efforts as a reserve player along with his willingness to do whatever was asked of him, suggesting he could be in for a bigger role next season.
“Japhet for us is being like the emergency guy. When we need he is there and when we need sometimes he is a right-back, as a left-back, other times in a centre-back in a defence of three and you can look at the recent matches with the national team, against Portugal he played right-back, two days later against Croatia he played centre-back.
“I don’t think it is a bad thing, especially for a young player, because what a young player needs is minutes and as a player I had many years ago, from right-back to left wing, ‘I am ready for you’ and as an emergency as a goalkeeper, so Japhet is a little bit like this. In spite of him being good in the air and he has a good positional education as a centre-back, I think probably his best position in the future is right-back.
“As you know he is not a giant, he needs to improve, his crossing needs to improve, the timings to arrive in attacking positions, but he is comfortable with the ball, he doesn’t make many mistakes, he is sold, reads the game well and is a player we can trust. You can see his debut was against Liverpool and then the matches he played are normally matches of responsibility and quality of the opponent. He is a player we trust. He is developing quite well, good kid. Humble kid, so all good.”
Tottenham kick off against Newcastle at St. James’ Park this Sunday at 9:05 am ET, 2:05 pm BST.