The theme of Jose Mourinho’s press conference was rotation, as the Spurs boss prepares his side for a relentless week of football.
The north Londoners travel to Wycombe Wanderers in The FA Cup fourth round on Monday night, before a three-day turnaround to face fellow title contenders, Liverpool - which is instantly met by an away trip to Brighton & Hove Albion - with all games set to be played within the space of seven days.
Spurs breezed past non-league side, Marine, to book their place in the fourth round. As for their opponents on Monday evening, Wycombe, they defeated fellow Championship rivals, Preston North End, to reach the next stage.
Gareth Ainsworth’s men sit bottom of The Championship table, whilst they have also had to battle an outbreak of COVID-19 amongst their squad, which saw recent games against Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday postponed.
The Chairboys returned to training this week and are set to play for the first time since the 9th of January.
Here are the important quotes from Jose Mourinho’s pre-Wycombe Wanderers press conference:
Mourinho started off by revealing that Giovani Lo Celso, who suffered a hamstring injury in Spurs' 2-0 defeat to Leicester City in late December, still has a few more weeks left on the treatment table, and that he will be unavailable for selection on Monday evening.
“We have two or three players who have small problems, which I am not sure they will play the match on Monday.”
He continued, “Matt Doherty, who was not involved at Sheffield United, I am not sure he will recover. Dele Alli has not been training in the last couple of days, he has had small problem in his tendon. And Serge Aurier, he’s not really well. But we still have three days before the match."
Mourinho expanded on Alli’s injury, explaining that, “It's not an injury that will keep him out for weeks and weeks like Lo Celso, but is an injury that doesn't allow him to train fully with the team.”
Spurs have already booked their place in the Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City, and Mourinho was keen to keep spirits and momentum high, ahead of a cutthroat run of games that could see the north Londoners in a position to compete for four major trophies towards the end of this season.
“With no disrespect to Marine, Wycombe are a different level. It’s a more difficult challenge."
Mourinho explained, "What we did well against Marine, is not enough to win against Wycombe. They are full professionals; a talented team and they have ambitions to compete. We need more than what we gave against Marine.”
“This is a very difficult game. We want to make a few changes, because it's natural, due to the fact we have match, after match, after match. Also, other players deserve the chance to play and the opportunity to show why they are not happy when they don’t play."
"We will make changes, but it’s a difficult match, so we will travel with the whole group."
He continued, “I would also say that we had a period where we could have more points that what we currently have. We lost two matches, drew a couple in that period so I would say that almost every club is having these difficult periods.
“What was almost a scandal years ago is not anymore. For me, any team can go to any stadium and get a result. That is a situation that people cannot underestimate. The teams considered with less potential are not like that as much anymore. These clubs and professionals deserve the credit. I don’t open my mouth anymore with ‘wow, what a crazy result.’
Prior to the press conference, news circulated that Gedson Fernandes, who is currently 12-months into his 18-month loan deal at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, could cut his deal short – with parent club, Benfica, in negotiations with Serie A side, Torino, over a possible deal.
Mourinho had this to say. “We do not speak with other clubs. The player is not our player, he is Benfica’s. From the moment we felt as if we couldn’t give Gedson the matches, and after leaving him out of the Europa League squad, we felt that we didn’t have the right to keep him. If he stays, great, he is another option and every time he plays, he always does very well for us.”
Spurs, like any club during this hectic January window, have been linked to a number of potential incomings, none more so than Danny Ings, who is stalling on a new contract from Southampton due to his ambition to play Champions League football.
Mourinho, however, was keen to bat away the question.
“Two strikers, we are not a team that needs a third striker because the third striker is Son." He continued, "We are happy with Carlos Vinícius. Carlos is not our player, he's a Benfica player, but he's a player we're looking to develop. We are happy with the situation.”
“Ings of course, I refuse totally to say any word about him because he's a Southampton player."