Spurs suffered a blow today as it was announced that Jan Vertonghen damaged a medial knee ligament in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Vertonghen’s partnership with Toby Alderweireld has been key to the improvement by Tottenham this season, so how does Mauricio Pochettino cope without him? We’ve got three possible solutions.
1. Put faith in Wimmer
Kevin Wimmer has been given relatively few opportunities to prove himself since joining Tottenham, but could now have the chance to shine in Vertinghen’s absence.
Wimmer has only played five times this season, prompting rumours of a return to the Bundesliga. The question is whether these lack of games are a symptom of Pochettino’s desire to keep a settled defence, or a lack of faith in the Austrian.
One assumes it’s the former. With the club having been drawn in a relatively tough Europa League group, Pochettino has often elected to play his strongest side in the very competition that he might have been expected to give Wimmer experience.
When called upon, Wimmer has looked solid and as a left-sided central defender looks the likeliest candidate to play in Vertonghen’s absence.
2. Drop Dier back, shake up the midfield
Another option at centre-back is Eric Dier. Unlike Wimmer, the 22-year old has built up plenty of experience in the Premier League and could be a more reliable option.
The problem this would create is in midfield, where Dier has excelled in a deep-lying role this season. There are other options, but the doubt is whether Pochettino will trust them to protect the back four as effectively as Dier.
Pochettino has seemed reluctant to play Nabil Bentaleb instead of Dier. Is this because of his lack of fitness after injury, or a verdict on his lack of defensive nous?
The other option is Mousa Dembele, who played well in this role against Liverpool at White Hart Lane this season.
3. Enter the transfer market
It seems unlikely that Spurs will buy a central defender considering that Pochettino doesn’t like to rotate in these positions, has Wimmer and Dier as options and the impressive youngster Cameron Carter-Vickers in reserve.
Yet a move for a midfielder that could end the reliance on Dier, should not be ruled out. Tottenham look far more difficult to break down since Dier replaced Bentaleb in the side and if Pochettino doesn’t think the Algerian can perform the role, then some back up will be needed sooner rather than later.
The link to the Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama has resurfaced and he or another defensive midfielder could be added in January.