Serge Aurier has been given a chance to salvage his Tottenham Hotspur career after Matt Doherty returned a positive test for coronavirus whilst on international duty.
According to Sky Sports, Spurs full-back Doherty will miss this weekend’s Premier League showdown with Manchester City after he and teammate James McClean tested positive for Covid-19 following Sunday’s clash with Wales.
The Republic of Ireland duo must now self-isolate for a period of 10 days in line with UK government rules, making Jose Mourinho’s £14.7million summer arrival also a doubt for next Thursday’s Europa League Group Stage tie with Ludogorets.
Doherty cannot return to training with Tottenham until next Wednesday at the earliest, dealing a huge blow into Mourinho’s plans having called on the 28-year-old to start six of eight Premier League fixtures and two of the north London’s side Europa League games.
Former Spurs goalkeeper Paul Robinson believes Doherty’s absence will be devastating for Mourinho, having seen the defender thrive from the off since leaving Wolverhampton Wanderers in August.
“It is devastating news for Doherty because he has hit the ground running for Spurs,” he told Football Insider. “He has been one of their best players this season.
“Spurs were looking to offload Serge Aurier in the summer, but it looks like it has worked in their favour because they could be without Doherty for a couple of games now. It is a real blow for them going into the game against Manchester City because Doherty and [Pierre-Emile] Hojbjerg have been their best players this year.
“A massive blow for Spurs but it gives Serge Aurier a chance to come back into the team.”
Like Robinson suggests, Doherty’s blow will very much be to Aurier’s gain as the Ivory Coast defender has found himself in exile this season, making just two Premier League appearances as a castaway of Mourinho’s squad.
Aurier had asked to leave north London a year ago and saw his place in the side come under greater threat upon Doherty’s arrival, though Mourinho stated that he considered the Republic of Ireland international as competition for the 27-year-old rather than a replacement for the AC Milan and Bayer Leverkusen target.
“When we bought Matt, it was not to sell Serge. When we got Matt, it was to strengthen the squad and to have more options,” he said, via quotes by football.london. “It was not to be in a very difficult situation like last season where Serge was playing all the time, and even in the worst possible circumstances when he had that very sad situation in his family. Even then he had to play and made that incredible effort to play.”
Mourinho was full of praise for Aurier earlier in the year after he played against Newcastle United following the death of his brother, despite being given permission to fly back to France and be with his family.
“Everyone reacts differently to tragedies and Serge is a special person,” Mourinho told talkSPORT.
Aurier now has the ideal chance to prove to Mourinho that he can be special on the pitch too, and show that he can offer more than just a back-up option used to rest Doherty after seeing his game time be reduced to only 180 minutes of Premier League football.
If the £70,000-per-week castaway can thrive against Manchester City, especially, Aurier will force Mourinho to sit up and take stock of his options, with Pep Guardiola’s side focusing 39% of their attacks down the left-hand channel and enjoying the top-flight’s third-most shots-per-game (14.7) thus far, per WhoScored.