Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has suggested a number of the club’s World Cup stars could miss the Premier League opener at Newcastle United on August 11th.
Nine Spurs players were involved in the World Cup semi-finals with England, Belgium and France respectively.
Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier all featured for England; Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele were in action for Belgium; and Hugo Lloris lifted the trophy as France captain.
All of those players will return to the club on Monday to begin training ahead of the new season.
But with the Premier League campaign getting underway in just ten days time, many of them may be unable to play against Newcastle, according to Pochettino.
“On Monday morning they will start their job on the training ground,” said the Tottenham boss (via the Independent) following his side’s final pre-season friendly in the US, a 1-0 victory over AC Milan.
“First we need to assess them and see what happens. Maybe some players looked after themselves and they’ve been training, maybe others rested.
“We are not going to take risks. If some players are not ready to play, they are not going to be involved at the weekend. That is so, so clear. If someone is not ready, he’s not going to be involved because we are not going to take risks.
“Of course, it’s not our fault. It’s the reality that happens and pushes us to take some decisions that doesn’t help the team from the beginning [of the season] but we need to help some players because after the World Cup, they need a minimum 20 days to rest and stop thinking about football.
“That is the reality. It is a massive challenge for us, because for us it never happened before and we need to be careful. We cannot play them because we need to or because the supporters will be disappointed [if they don’t play].
“We are going to look after them in the best way, try to help them and start to play when they will be ready – not before.”
Spurs are yet to make any signings this summer, although they are reportedly closing in on a deal for Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish.
There are also a number of injury concerns ahead of the Premier League opener, with Victor Wanyama, Erik Lamela and Moussa Sissoko all doubtful.