Tottenham Hotspur manager Robert Vilahamn has stated that midfielder Drew Spence is 'very close' to returning to the matchday squad. 

The 31-year-old has not featured for the team since their 1-1 draw with Everton on the 5th November due to a hamstring injury. It has left Spurs without a key playmaker in the final third, which has been highlighted across recent matches. Yet Spence is set to return soon to bolster the club's options.

"She's back now doing the warm-ups and technical stuff so she's very close to actually playing with the team," he told VAVEL.  

Tottenham are expected to continue to take the FA Cup seriously this season as they prepare to face Charlton on Saturday. In the fourth round, they scraped past Sheffield United 3-2 thanks to a stoppage-time winner from Rosella Ayane. Vilahamn understands the importance of the possibility of FA Cup glory — and he highlighted that in his press conference. 

"If you look at it, it's three games before we can actually play at Wembley for a title, so it's quite close," he stated. 

"We see that and know that if we take this game perfectly then it's two more games. We very much want to do that because I don't think we will win the league this year and we can't win the Continental Cup. This is our last chance to win a title this year and we want to be that team."

  • Spence set to return

The morale and sense of excitement around Hotspur Way this season has been clear. A 1-0 win at home to Arsenal in December epitomised the philosophy around the club. But they've had to contend with injuries whilst performing above pre-season expectations.

Spence has been one of those players on the sidelines and, with her ability to pick precise passes and glide in the final third, she has been sorely missed by the team, which Vilahamn knows himself. 

"Hopefully, it's not too many weeks left now — and she looks very good in the technical part because she's so good with the ball. When you look at the teams we've played against in the last week, they're really good defensively," he told VAVEL. 

"There are a few players who can be very creative in those games. Grace Clinton. Drew Spence. Those kinds of players who can see stuff nobody else can see. They can break a line and make that amazing pass in behind. Drew [Spence] is one of those and I miss her in that way because she has an x-factor that not many have."

Spence's return in the coming weeks has the potential to help Spurs gel in the final third. Martha Thomas and Bethany England were billed as an exciting partnership, but they have yet to show their potential since working alongside one another. Vilahamn described them as 'similar players' who need to 'find the right role' with the team.

"First of all, you need to find the right role according to the team. Martha [Thomas] has been dropping in as a ten and finding some really good relationships with Jess [Naz] when she's been a nine. When she and Beth [England] play together, they start to get to know each other," he told VAVEL. 

"They are quite similar players, but they need to know who's dropping and who's running in behind. I've got to make sure the rest of the team is putting the ball in the right places for them as well. Also, making sure we are very fit when we go for it.

"They both do a lot of hard work for us defensively against Man City for example. It's then really hard to be sharp in the final third. We need to find ways to use their energy in the right way as well."

  • Tottenham's process still in progress

Tottenham lost 1-0 to Manchester City in the Continental Cup on Wednesday. They failed to register a shot on target but showed defensive structure against one of the best teams in the country. 

Vilahamn has been pleased with the performances of the team despite failing to win against Liverpool last weekend or in the Continental Cup.

"I think you can tell we are looking better in the defence and build-up — and we want to score more goals. We're an attacking team and there's always an opponent that wants to stop us doing that. We need to develop there because we played two really good teams," he stated. 

"On the other hand, I see us trying to do stuff and I'm pleased with that. It's nice to see us stick together and look like a team right now. We try to look like a Tottenham Hotspur team. I'm happy with the performances even if the results aren't there. 

"When we went [to Man City] and tried to play our style, we realised that they are a very good team and they basically scored every chance we got. Then we realised we actually needed to work together to defend against them.

"We learned a lot from that game and the Man United game. It was the reason we beat Arsenal because we were learning how to defend against a team collectively. We're doing that very well, but it takes a lot of energy to do that."

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About the author
Alex Mitton
North East and Yorkshire Editor. SJA and AIPS accredited.