Jose Mourinho has been handed a massive injury boost ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s Europa League clash this evening…
Speaking ahead of their Round of 16 second-leg encounter with Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb, the Spurs boss revealed that Giovani Lo Celso was back in the squad for the first time since December 20th.
He said, via the Evening Standard:
“Of course we missed him for a long time. I don’t think he has 90 minutes in his legs but he looked very confident in these three sessions that he did with the team on Monday, Tuesday, [and] Wednesday, so I don’t feel any limitations with him.
“The team needs him because he’s a quality player and he’s also very competitive.”
The 24-year-old had missed 22 matches in all competitions after picking up a hamstring issue in Spurs’ 2-0 defeat to Leicester City three months ago.
Going by Mourinho’s comments above, there has to be a real chance of seeing the £27m-rated dynamo return to action tonight – whether that’s from the off or from the bench, very much remains to be seen.
Spurs’ form in his absence has been very rocky.
Five league defeats in six matches in the space of a month had, according to the Telegraph’s Matt Law, put immense pressure on Mourinho but things had turned a corner before Sunday’s north London derby as they had clinched three straight victories.
Similarly, the Lilywhites have continued to deliver in tonight’s competition, seeing off Wolfsberger AC with ease in the last round. And they go into tonight’s fixture holding a two-goal lead thanks to a brace from Harry Kane.
That said, Mourinho has still missed the Argentine’s influence from attacking midfield and as he says, his competitive nature will be sure to fire a rocket up some of his underperforming rivals.
Only three other Spurs stars have a better expected assists (xA) number per 90 minutes this season, with Lo Celso sitting at 0.21 closely behind Kane (0.3), Heung-min Son (0.27) and Serge Aurier (0.23), as per Understat.
This clearly shows that Lo Celso is among Mourinho’s most creative options, and that much is reinforced by the number of key passes he’s produced in the Premier League this term.
The £70k-per-week maestro is managing 1.9 successful attempts per 90 minutes, which is joint-second behind Son (two), and is equal to or above that of fellow no.10s, Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele and Lucas Moura, via WhoScored.
If Lo Celso is going to be involved tonight, then a 60-min run out here is going to be far more beneficial than risking him in the top-flight.
They’ve been cautious enough in bringing him back up to speed, so the fact that he will be in the squad tonight suggests that he will indeed feature, and that should please many in N17.
AND in other news, Mourinho must “special” £26m-rated game-changer on Dinamo Zagreb tonight…