Jose Mourinho has confirmed that defenders Serge Aurier and Toby Alderweireld simply weren’t selected for Tottenham’s trip to Newcastle.
The pair missed Tottenham’s last game before the international break through illness, but both travelled and then played for their respective countries Ivory Coast and Belgium – with Alderweireld starting and playing 90 minutes in all of Belgium’s three World Cup qualifiers.
However, neither were picked for the game at St James’ Park as Japhet Tanganga was selected at right-back, whilst Joe Rodon and Davinson Sanchez kept their places following the victory at Villa Park last month.
But Spurs were unable to repeat their win at Villa after Joe Willock scored a late equaliser for Newcastle to cancel Harry Kane’s quick-fire brace in the north East as Mourinho’s team missed the opportunity to climb into the top four for the first time since early-January.
The Spurs manager was quizzed on their absence, and said that both players were fit, but weren’t included in the travelling party.
Mourinho told Football.London: “They were fit, yeah. But they report for training only yesterday and they went for their national teams and they didn’t make the Covid tests on time to be in the training session on Thursday, not even on Friday, they come only yesterday.
“But did we lose matches with them or with them we were a perfect team defensively.”