Tottenham Hotspur only have two Premier League matches in the month of January, which feels weird. But they also have an FA Cup match this Friday against Burnley and will need to find a way to win without Yves Bissouma, Pape Sarr, and most critically, Son Heung-Min who are away with their national teams.
Ange Postecoglou gave his usual pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s match, and provided some good and bad news regarding player injuries. The bad news is that Alejo Veliz’s injury appears to be a serious one — he’ll miss at least six weeks of action in order to recover from what sounds like a MCL injury to his knee. The good news, however, is REALLY good — Micky van de Ven is back in training and has been all week!
“From last week unfortunately Alejo suffered a fairly significant injury. He had scans after the game and it’ll probably keep him out for a couple of months. He won’t need surgery but he’s suffered ligament damage. Disappointed for him because he’s worked hard to get an opportunity in the last couple of weeks and has been growing into it so really disappointed for him. In terms of last week, no one else is an issue on the injury front.
“Guys coming back, Micky van de Ven has trained with us this week, he’s got through three sessions. We’re not sure about tomorrow whether he’ll be involved or not. I think everyone else is as is.”
My first impression is that there’s no way that Ange would risk playing Micky so soon after his return to training from a hamstring injury. But that’s also what I said about Rodrigo Bentancur and Big Ange just went and stuck him in the starting lineup anyway, making me look like a idiot in the process. So who knows! But Ange does make it sound like if Micky doesn’t get minutes in the Cup, he’ll definitely be in line for some time at Old Trafford the following week. That’s pretty friggin’ fantastic.
The news is not so good for James Maddison, who has yet to return to training. Ange was asked about the status of both Madders and Cuti Romero and basically punted on the question.
“He’s not training with us yet mate and I’ve said before until they training with us, it is hard for me to put a timeline on it. He’s running with the sports science crew but not with us and not likely to be with us in the next couple of weeks I don’t think. [Romero] is still in the very early stages [of recovery].
With the club’s scoring leader Son away at the Asian Cup, that puts the spotlight squarely on Richarlison as the team’s primary goal threat. Richy’s been very good since coming back from his groin surgery at the end of 2023 — he’s scored five goals in as many matches and boasts a impressive 0.73 npxG+xA/90 this season. Asked about Richy, Postecoglou said that his recent production has as much to do with confidence as it does with feeling good and being pain free for the first time this season.
“I think I’ve said consistently he’s just free of injury, he feels good physically and he’s just able to perform at the levels that he wants to. He couldn’t do that at the start of the year. Even though he was playing for us, he was feeling restricted in his movements. It’s no magic cure, he got some treatment for what he needed to get treatment for and he feels good now. His body feels good and then he’s scoring goals which makes him feel a little bit more confident in himself. Aside from that, he’s working really hard for the team which has been really important for us, especially the last two, three weeks. He’s going well and hopefully there’s more to come.”
The Cup usually means rotation, but with Spurs still in an injury crisis there might not be as much as what we expect, especially with Tottenham wanting to make a strong run and facing Premier League opposition. But with Veliz out injured, could that mean a chance for Dane Scarlett? The academy graduate was recalled from a bad loan at Ipswich, and he’s not eligible to head back out on loan having played in the Carabao Cup loss to Fulham, meaning he’ll be staying at Spurs at least until this summer. But will he play Friday? Ange didn’t say, but neither did he rule it out.
“It works that [Dane] is back with us, he trains every day, he’s got an opportunity to show what he can do. That’s the life of a footballer. There’s no point… he went to Ipswich to play, he didn’t for whatever reason. He’s got to take some responsibility for that. It didn’t work out but he’s back here now, training with us and like all the other young players, they are before me every day and can put a compelling case to play.”
Spurs play at home against Burnley in the third round of the FA Cup on Friday. Kick-off time is 3 p.m. ET / 8 pm GMT. The match is televised on ITV 1 and streamed in the USA on ESPN+.