One of the neat things Ange Postecoglou and Tottenham Hotspur have been doing lately is posting short video interviews discussing team and injury news ahead of Premier League football matches. It’s been happening for a couple of matches now; normally this is stuff that gets addressed in the pre-match press conferences, and this feels like the club making an attempt to get ahead of the situation a bit.
So there’s good news and bad news as Spurs gets ready to host West Ham on Thursday night. The good news is Cuti Romero is (finally!) returning from his three match suspension for being sent off against Chelsea, putting an end to the Oops! All Fullbacks! back line Spurs have rolled out in his absence. The bad news is that midfielder Pape Sarr isn’t quite ready to get back into the team, though Ange said he’ll likely be available for Newcastle this weekend.
“[Sarr’s] OK. Probably tomorrow may be a bit too quick for him, but certainly he should be available for Sunday [vs. Newcastle].
“So in terms of last week, I guess the main one is [Cuti] Romeo is back and available, which is great, and everyone else got through the game well after the weekend and the rest of the injuries are sort of long term.”
Richarlison notably came in for a brief cameo against City at the end of the match, and Postecoglou confirmed that this appears to be the plan at least for West Ham and probably for Newcastle too — don’t expect a Richy start.
“It was good to get [Richarlison] some game time. He still needs some work in training, but again he’ll be available and so if we need him towards the end of the game he’ll be able to contribute.”
Postecoglou’s lineup for tomorrow’s London Derby is an interesting conundrum, especially considering the short turnaround time between this match and the following against Newcastle. As thin as Spurs are, Ange will need to carefully manage minutes so that players don’t overextend and sustain further injuries. That said, I wonder if he’ll roll with essentially the same lineup he used in the 3-3 draw at Manchester City last weekend, only with Romero back in for Emerson Royal. And we also got an explanation as to why Eric Dier has been out of the side — it’s not because he’s out of favor, but because (like everyone else) he’s been dealing with an injury.
“It’s good to have [Cuti] back. Obviously he’s an important player for us. He’s one of our leaders and with him and [James Maddison] out that rested on Sonny’s shoulders. And you know he’s the only fit center back we have at the club at the moment with Micky [van de Ven], Eric Dier and Ashley Phillips all injured so it’s good to get him back and have some stability back there.
“[Dier] just has a sore groin that he’s been dealing with for a while and he hasn’t been training so we’re just trying to manage that at the moment.”
Unless I missed something, this is the first time the club has directly addressed Dier’s absence. Big Ange didn’t do Dier any favors when he responded to a press question about Eric’s chances to play against City with a flat “No,” but this does make a lot more sense. Maybe Ange would’ve opted to play Emerson Royal ahead of Dier anyway due to mobility issues, but at least there’s a reasonable explanation of Dier’s absence that isn’t “Ange hates him now.”
Tottenham host West Ham at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday. Kick-off is 3:15 p.m. ET / 8:15 p.m. GMT.