Mauricio Pochettino today confirmed that Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb and Heung-Min Son are all unavailable for Saturday’s clash with Liverpool - with Eric Dier also missing through suspension and Alex Pritchard out long-term.
The news comes as a blow for Spurs, but not a fatal one. The absence of three central midfielders means Pochettino has little choice but to partner Dele Alli with Moussa Dembele in the heart of his midfield.
Pochettino prefers to play both higher up – in the three behind Harry Kane – but needs must, and they both have plenty of experience playing as the ‘2’ in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Dembele returned from injury in the recent 2-2 draw with Swansea and will be a valuable addition to the squad.
The Belgian was one of Tottenham’s better performers in the early part of the season - albeit on the right flank – but has proven time and time again that he is the man for the big occasions.
His presence in central midfield allows Spurs to dictate games, and while he isn’t as defensively minded as Dier, he is far more gifted on the ball and could prove good balance alongside the energetic Alli.
The Lilywhites could have done with Son’s directness against the Reds, but opting for Lamela on the right is no tragedy given his recent upturn in form.
Christian Eriksen will slot in behind Kane leaving the left wing the biggest mystery ahead of Saturday.
Pochettino will most likely take the safe approach and start with Nacer Chadli, despite his lacklustre showings of late, but Clinton N’Jie is due a start and would stretch a struggling Liverpool backline.
The loss of four key members of the squad is clearly a blow, but Spurs’ recruitment over the summer has afforded them sufficient squad depth – and it’s now time to utilise it.