Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has suffered a major injury blow ahead of his team’s Premier League clash against West Ham on Sunday afternoon.
A statement posted on the club’s official website revealed: “Japhet Tanganga has undergone surgery on his right knee and will be out for the remainder of the season.
“The England Under-21 international will undergo a period of recovery and is expected to return to training during the pre-season period.”
After making his breakthrough into the Spurs first-team squad under Jose Mourinho, things haven’t quite progressed as Tanganga may have hoped or expected.
The 22-year-old’s versatility has been one of his biggest strengths and arguably one of his biggest weaknesses too, failing to really nail down a place as either a right-sided full-back or a central defender.
Indeed, former Spurs midfielder Michael Brown had previously suggested that Tanganga’s long-term future could remain more infield, tipping him for big things.
He said of the 22-year-old: “He’s gone right-sided, he’s been in a three, he’s gone wing-back, he’s gone left-sided centre-half. It’s a wonderful position. You’re thinking would central defence be that one he’d mature in, to lead, to try and make that his own? I saw it with Phil Jagielka when I started playing with Sheffield United.
“He was a midfield player who then dropped back, like many do, into a right-back situation and we knew he had pace. As that maturity came in he slotted inside and ended up playing 40-odd games for England. It could be as he matures more he becomes that leader at central defence.”
However, this season under Conte and former boss Nuno Espirito Santo has seen Tananga play just 11 times in the Premier League, totalling 739 minutes of football in the top flight.
His knee injury came at a time just when it seemed like he might have broken into Conte’s plans, having played the full 90 minutes against Leicester and then playing just under an hour against Chelsea.
While Spurs have coped without Tanganga for the past few weeks, the news that his season is now officially over is bound to have left Conte gutted.
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