Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte has big shoes to fill after Heung-min Son suffered a devastating injury blow this week.
The 29-year-old is expected to miss the remainder of the month after he sustained a muscle injury during their Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg defeat to Chelsea in midweek.
It means he will miss this afternoon’s FA Cup third-round clash with League One side Morecambe, the return leg against the Blues on Wednesday and unfortunately, next weekend’s north London derby in the Premier League.
“It was a strange situation,” revealed the Italian during his pre-game press conference.
“Against Chelsea, I made two substitutions together, with Lucas Moura and then Son. But not for injury, the substitutions, but only to try to give them a bit of rest, 15 minutes of rest. Then the day after, he felt a bit of pain in his muscle, in his leg.
“He had a scan and now we have to make the right evaluation from the doctors. He has an injury. I don’t know, but probably he will stay without training sessions until the end of this cycle, before the international break.”
Son has been ever so crucial to Spurs’ fortunes so far this campaign.
It leaves Conte with a major dilemma – just who can replace him? One contender will be Steven Bergwijn – once fit – as he has looked bright in his few appearances under the 52-year-old.
Instead, it could be Bryan Gil’s time to shine.
Valued at €40m (£34m) by CIES Football Observatory, the young Spaniard has been restricted to just 210 minutes of domestic action since joining in a £21.6m swap deal involving Erik Lamela from Sevilla in the summer.
The 20-year-old gem looked like a bright spark when he came off the bench in midweek, particularly in one moment where he twisted and turned Mason Mount inside out before creating a goalscoring opportunity.
After his arrival, football.london reporter Alasdair Gold tipped the Spanish playmaker for big things, even likening his potential to that of Christian Eriksen.
“I think we’re going to see a very talented young player coming to the fore. He’s kind of got a bit of everything: he can pass, he can dribble, he’s very creative, he has clever movement.
“They’ve just got to decide, is he a guy that can ultimately become the new Eriksen, because the more and more I watch him play, I think the ability’s there to do that. Some have even made a [Luka] Modric comparison and said, maybe he could end up coming even deeper and becoming that kind of player.”
Gil, who has also been dubbed a “big talent” by football talent scout Jacek Kulig, certainly has the qualities to fill Conte’s huge Son void. In LaLiga last season, he averaged 1.7 crosses and 1.9 key passes per 90 minutes.
Currently, the long-serving Spurs star is averaging 2.1 crosses and 1.9 key passes per 90 in the Premier League this term, via WhoScored, so the switch could well be a near like-for-like.
It’s time for Conte to turn to the promising Spain starlet, starting with today’s clash against Morecambe.