Tottenham’s current run of Premier League form has kept them firmly in the race for a top four finish this season, sitting in fifth just three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal. Antonio Conte’s men have won four in their last five to put themselves in this position, with plenty left to play for in the race for Champions League qualification.
Next up is an international break for Spurs though, with two weeks between their win over West Ham and the home match against Newcastle in early April. When they return, it’ll be a sprint to the finish line, with Liverpool and Arsenal still to play in the run-in.
If they are to make a return to Champions League football, then they need everything to go their way in the final two months of the season. One of which will be avoiding injuries to key players.
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The international break may be an unfortunate period where that potential problem could become a reality for Conte. Twelve first-team senior players have been called up to play for their nations.
Along with adding two extra fixtures, the added weight of traveling, training and then returning to the club could see a number of players return in less than ideal physical and mental condition. This could cause issues for the head coach in his selection for Newcastle.
For Spurs, three key men could be huge misses for the match against the resurgent Magpies, those being Harry Kane, Rodrigo Bentancur and Cristian Romero. England captain Kane has joined up with the Three Lions after finding his goal scoring form once again, though he has also been key in setting up his teammates in recent weeks too.
Bentancur joins the Uruguay setup having added an extra bite to the Spurs midfield since his switch from Juventus in January. His performances alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg could be key in the upcoming run of games.
As for Romero, the defender has been a towering figure in the back three since his return from injury. He has joined up with the Argentina squad, despite currently being banned for two matches due to the breaking of travel restrictions when he, and a number of Premier League stars, were judged to have broken Covid restrictions by travelling to Brazil during the last international break.
The late finish of fixtures in South America – with Argentina and Uruguay both kicking off after midnight on Wednesday morning – means that players travelling back will be unlikely to play a full part in training on Thursday. While the clash against Newcastle takes place on Sunday afternoon, it still leaves Conte with little time to prepare his full team.
Here’s what the lineup could look like in all three players’ absences: Lloris; Davies, Dier, Sanchez; Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Winks, Royal; Kulusevski, Son; Bergwijn.
That’s not to say that a number of other injuries to other players wouldn’t impact Spurs though. The likes of Hugo Lloris, Ben Davies, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski would all be equally huge blows for the squad in their chase for fourth. Conte will certainly be hoping all of his players return with a clean bill of health.