Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is eager to welcome midfielder Victor Wanyama back into his first-team squad during the upcoming festive period of Premier League fixtures.
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Wanyama, who hasn’t played since the second game of the 2017-18 season due to a knee injury which required extensive rehabilitation in order to avoid surgery, returned to full training this week. Pochettino is hopeful, yet cautious, that the Kenyan’s knee will respond well in the coming days and ultimately be ready for game action in the next 10-14 days — quotes from the Guardian:
“He came back to training with the team on Wednesday. Now we need to see how the knee reacts but it’s a very good feeling from him. It will be fantastic to have him back. He was such an important player for us last season and it’s true that we have missed a player like him this season — in a position where you have to be strong.”
Tottenham are away to Burnley on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com), home against Southampton three days later on Boxing Day, and away to Swansea City seven days later on Jan. 2.
By opting against significant investment during the summer transfer window, Spurs essentially rolled the dice in hopes of another largely injury-free season as they attempted to challenge for the PL title for a third straight season. If everyone managed to stay healthy and play 80-90 percent of games, the squad was good enough to push the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea — or so the thought was in June, July and August.
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Of course, that’s a risky proposition. Wanyama was lost for four months after just 98 minutes of PL action, Mousa Dembele‘s chronic injury issues have persisted, Danny Rose didn’t return from a knee injury of his own until November, and Toby Aldeweireld has been out since the start of Novemeber and won’t be back until February. Following Wanyama’s comeback, Aldeweireld is the only Spurs player currently unavailable for selection.
As such, Moussa Sissoko has started more than half of Spurs’ games in the PL, Eric Dier has been forced into center-back duty thus weakening an already-thin midfield unit in Wanyama’s absence, and the likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have been ridden extremely hard during the first half of the season — perhaps setting them up for second-half breakdowns of their own.
Couple all of that with the fact Spurs are playing their home games at Wembley Stadium this season, and it begins to feel like something of a miracle that they currently sit just three points back of fourth place in the league and effortlessly breezed through the “group of death” in the UEFA Champions League.