Tottenham Hotspur will play their final tune-up before the resumption of the Premier League on Boxing Day when they host Nice at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this afternoon at 7 pm UK / 2 pm ET. However, not all of Spurs’ players will be participating. The Evening Standard is reporting that a virus has swept through the Spurs squad in the days ahead of the match, and three Tottenham players are likely to miss the match with a stomach bug.
Son Heung-Min, Djed Spence, and Oliver Skipp have all apparently been feeling ill and are likely not fit to feature in the Nice friendly. Antonio Conte confirmed the news in comments to the press ahead of the match. Richarlison and Rodrigo Bentancur will also miss the match as they continue to recover from injury, while Cuti Romero, Ivan Perisic, and Hugo Lloris have yet to return to the squad after the World Cup.
“I have to be honest we have some problems with some players. Because Sonny, in the last two days he didn’t have a training for the fever. It was the same today for Skippy and Spence. Many players have a bit of stomach problem.
“Rodrigo [Bentancur] has started to work. I think that he’s going to be good for the game against Aston Villa. For Richy, tomorrow he’s going to have an MRI [scan] to know very well the importance of the injury. After tomorrow we will see very well the time he needs to recover.”
Notably, Conte did not state whether the Tottenham players have had lasagna at the training ground at any point in the last week.
This likely means that Fraser Forster will start in goal, unless as with the Motherwell friendly, Conte opts to start with third string Brandon Austin instead. We’ll also certainly see some combination of Davinson Sanchez, Ben Davies, Clement Lenglet, and maybe Japhet Tanganga in the back line. Spence’s absence probably means Emerson Royal and Matt Doherty will split time in the match, while Ryan Sessegnon, who has been dealing with injury himself lately but was not mentioned by Conte in the leadup to this match, could play at least initially on the left.
The Standard noted that Eric Dier and Harry Kane have not been spotted in training photos as of yet so there’s some question as to whether they will start, or even feature, against Nice. Son’s illness and a possible Kane absence means that we could see a front line of Dejan Kulusevski, Lucas Moura, and Bryan Gil, or something weird like the Harvey White false nine that we saw against Motherwell a couple of weeks ago.
I would guess Yves Bissouma and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will anchor the midfield, but Pape Matar Sarr and/or White might slot in there as well. There’s always the chance that we could also see cameos from U21 squad and academy players to make up the numbers like Jamie Donley, Alfie Devine, Charlie Sayers, or Will Lankshear.
The match is not televised, but will be streamed on SpursPLAY, Tottenham’s in-house subscription streaming service.