Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho could be without at least one of his regular options this evening as his side head to Championship outfit Wycombe Wanderers in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Speaking ahead of the encounter, the Spurs boss told reporters, via the official website:
“Matt Doherty was not involved at Sheffield United and I’m not sure if he will recover. Dele hasn’t trained for the last couple of days with a small problem in the tendon and Serge Aurier, not really well.”
Dele Alli seems likely to be out but that doesn’t come as a major negative to the Portuguese manager as he’s barely utilised the 24-year-old this term, indeed he’s played only 472 minutes in all competitions, of which six were starts, in all competitions per Transfermarkt.
However, the potential of having both his right-back options in Serge Aurier and Matt Doherty would be a killer blow to their fortunes, especially the Ivorian, who has emerged as Mourinho’s first-choice option over the course of the season.
The 28-year-old has started ten of their 18 league outings this campaign as well as half of their cup outings too. His turnaround in form has led to the club planning to offer him a longer-term contract as he’s entered the final 18 months of his £120k-per-week deal, per Football Insider.
So clearly, he’s a big part of Mourinho’s plans right now.
What makes this news even worse is the possibility of not having his back-up, Doherty, either. The Irishman, who joined for £15m in the summer, has played 17 times in all competitions, primarily in the Europa League and this very tournament, so you’d imagine he’d be in line to feature once again if fit.
That said, the 29-year-old has struggled to replicate the sort of form that caught the eye at Molineux. His last league appearance against Leeds was a disaster as he badly let the Spurs boss down with a shocking display – as we further outlined in this Performance In Numbers article.
It leaves Mourinho with a tricky selection headache going into tonight’s clash as without either of the duo, he will either have to turn to Japhet Tanganga, who has played the bulk of his appearances at centre-back, Moussa Sissoko, a midfielder-by-trade who has been somewhat a utility player down that right flank or even a vastly-inexperienced academy player.
Tanganga, who has been dubbed “hungry to play” by Ledley King, seems the most viable option should both of the regular first-team options be absent at Adams Park, though it certainly makes Spurs a weaker prospect as they hold the second-best defensive record in the Premier League so far this term with either Aurier or Doherty starting at right-back.