Tottenham Hotspur have been handed an encouraging boost after it was confirmed that two players returned to training this week…
Ahead of the second leg of their Europa League Round of 32 clash with Wolfsberger AC tonight, Spurs boss Jose Mourinho delivered a positive update in his pre-game press conference, where he revealed that both Serge Aurier and Giovani Lo Celso were nearing a comeback.
On Aurier, he said: “Serge is almost there, I believe for the weekend and if not the weekend, Fulham next week, but Serge is coming.”
And on Lo Celso, Mourinho added: “Gio is not coming back, but coming back to training with the team, which is a big step and a very important one. Even today, he was training for the first time, of course, with lots of protection in relation to what he could or could not do.
“It’s good news. It’s maybe a couple of weeks to play, but let’s say if everything goes well, we are on the countdown.”
Given the run of form Spurs find themselves in at the minute – six defeats in eight – it will be a welcome boost to have two players back capable of making an impact for the rest of the campaign.
At right-back, it is becoming increasingly clear that Mourinho does not trust £15m summer signing Matt Doherty and reports have surfaced, via ESPN, suggesting that his future past the summer could be in serious doubt.
Indeed, Aurier has usurped the Irishman despite all of his own worries. The Spurs boss revealed during their Amazon ‘All or Nothing’ docuseries that he was scared of the former PSG star’s defending, so it speaks volumes that he’s started more times (13) than Doherty (nine).
Japhet Tanganga was preferred to the 29-year-old on Sunday, too.
Whilst Lo Celso is capable of injecting much-needed influence further up the pitch. As we’ve seen in recent matches, Mourinho has given chances to wide duo Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura in the no.10 role, with Tanguy Ndombele playing a little deeper.
This surely means the Argentine playmaker could slot right back in, eventually.
On the face of it, a return of only one goal and one assist in the league isn’t anything to scream about but Lo Celso’s importance shouldn’t be understated.
He sits third to the impressive partnership of Harry Kane and Heung-min Son for key passes per game (0.8), which means he’s creating more chances than everyone but Spurs’ two biggest goal threats.
Whilst of all players to play ten or more league games this term, Aurier (0.24) and Lo Celso (0.21) are only behind Kane for expected assists per 90 minutes, via Understat, only reinforcing their importance to this side picking up results.
In the two games without Aurier, Spurs have scored just once, whilst since the turn of the year, the north London outfit have only surpassed two goals in one game on two occasions, which isn’t good enough for a side that was sitting top of the table in mid-December.
Clearly, the return of the pair will be a major boost for Spurs, and that should ultimately have Mourinho absolutely delighted.