José Mourinho hopes that Tanguy Ndombele feels ready to ease Tottenham’s midfield crisis after missing the Boxing Day victory over Brighton & Hove Albion, with Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko suspended for Saturday afternoon’s trip to Norwich City.
Ndombele asked to be left out of the squad against Brighton after telling Mourinho he was not in the right condition to play. While the £55m midfielder shook off a groin injury in time to face Chelsea last Sunday, he is worried about suffering further setbacks as he works towards regaining full match fitness. However Spurs are short of midfielders after Winks and Sissoko picked up their fifth bookings of the season against Brighton and Mourinho, who has Eric Dier and Oliver Skipp also competing for selection, wants Ndombele to make himself available.
“I think Ndombele was honest,” Mourinho said. “Football players like to play football. For him to say I don’t feel confident, I don’t feel in the best condition due to my previous injuries, he was just being honest. Today we had solutions. We had Dier, we had Winks, we have Skipp, who is a great kid fighting to improve, for a place. Today we had solutions. Against Norwich less solutions. But let’s see. I hope after training he can come back to me and say, ‘I’m ready to help the team’.”
Spurs were 12 points behind Chelsea when Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino last month. They are three points behind Frank Lampard’s side now and have a chance to go fourth on Saturday. However Mourinho urged caution when he was asked about his team’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, arguing that it will not be easy to keep winning.
“I started with minus 12 here,” the Spurs manager said. “With minus 12 you have to recover 12 points. It’s a lot. A couple of days ago we were minus 3 and we had a chance to go to zero. Right. But the problem is during the recovery process we’re not going to win all the time and the other teams aren’t going to lose all the time.
“It’s very difficult to get 12, 9, 7, 6, 0 to recover. It’s very difficult to recover a distance of 12 points. If we’re in contact, we’re in contact. If we start next season with everyone the same number points it’s a different story. Now it’s hard. The players they feel it. And it’s not easy. But we go for it.”
Dele Alli, who scored a beautiful winner against Brighton, is also a doubt to face Norwich.