Spurs blow as Alderweireld faces long spell out
Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld is expected to be out until after Christmas with a hamstring injury, manager Mauricio Pochettino has said.
Alderweireld has not played for Spurs since pulling up against Real Madrid in the Champions League on November 1.
The Belgian will now miss tomorrow's north London derby against Arsenal and is likely also to sit out games against Borussia Dortmund, Apoel Nicosia and Manchester City over the next month.
"We expect longer than we previously (thought) when the problem happened," Pochettino said. "Maybe after Christmas, maybe. That is the expectation. It will be longer (than we thought)."
Tottenham are also hoping to have a handful of key players back for this weekend's clash at Emirates Stadium, with Harry Kane (knee), Dele Alli (hamstring) and Harry Winks (ankle) all pulling out of the England squad last week.
Hugo Lloris also missed Spurs' win over Crystal Palace before the international break with a groin strain.
"We are optimistic but we need to wait and analyse every single case," Pochettino said.
"I hope (on Friday) we can count on them for the game but still we need to decide between the medical staff, sport science and us.
"I am happy because if they cannot play Saturday it is sure they are close to play Tuesday (at Borussia Dortmund) or next weekend (against West Brom). It is not a big issue like Toby Alderweireld." Despite their fitness concerns, Tottenham head to their fiercest rivals full of confidence.
They finished above Arsenal last season for the first time in 22 years and already sit four point clear of Arsene Wenger's side this term. "We need to show massive respect to them," Pochettino said.
"Before in the last 22, 23 years only we finish above Arsenal one time. That does not mean today we are above Arsenal.
"I think for us it is a massive challenge to stay there and be competitive against a team that in the last 20 years has won more trophies than us, always was on the top, always was competing not only in the Premier League but in the Champions League too."
A large section of Arsenal fans have grown increasingly disgruntled with Wenger, under whom their team has failed to win the Premier League since 2004 and now lost his proud record of qualifying for the Champions League year afer year.
"He is a fantastic manager. I respect him a lot and admire him," Pochettino said.