Tottenham’s Champions League hopes have been hit with a huge blow with the news that Moussa Sissoko looks likely to miss the semi-final first leg against Ajax.
The midfielder, who is a candidate for the club’s player of the season, suffered a groin injury in the quarter-final second-leg match at Manchester City and has been ruled out by boss Mauricio Pochettino for two weeks.
That would mean he misses the home leg of their last-four tie on April 30, a game which another star Son Heung-min, who has stepped up in Harry Kane’s absence, is also suspended for.
Sissoko joins Kane in the treatment room ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League clash with Brighton while Hugo Lloris and Harry Winks will also be assessed.
“Moussa Sissoko is not going to be fit, maybe for the next two weeks, we hope he can recover before but I am not so optimistic,” Pochettino said.
“Harry Winks we don’t know because it is a problem that is one day very good, next day not very good, it is about assessing each day.
“We hope he will be available for Tuesday but we are not sure.
“Lloris I hope yes, we are going to assess, we have a training session and we hope it is not a big issue, we hope he is going to be available.”
With the Ajax tie looming large it could be easy for Spurs’ players to be focused solely on that, but results in the Premier League this weekend will sharpen their mind.
Even though they lost at Manchester City in their second game in 72 hours at the Etihad Stadium, their top-four chances were enhanced as Arsenal and Manchester United also lost.
If they can beat Brighton and then West Ham in back-to-back games at their new stadium, then they will go a long way to ensuring a fourth successive top-four finish.
“We are not thinking of Ajax,” Pochettino added. “We showed at Manchester City that we are thinking in the today and that competition, the Premier League.
“Now our energy is in Brighton. It is so clear that we have two objectives – one is to be in the top four at the end of the season and the other is to beat Ajax, but we need to go step-by-step.
“The players, they know it, I think the behaviour and the mentality is perfect.
“You know very well if there is something wrong I see it and I am going to tell them but I think they were very professional at City, the performance was very good and very professional.”
Spurs will take confidence from being back at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where they have won their opening three games, scoring seven and conceding none.
And Pochettino wants more of the same.
“We hope we can keep going, getting the same result,” he added.
“It is going to be fantastic and it is going to be helpful for us playing in the new stadium with our fans and we hope and wish to repeat the performances of the previous results.”