Alder­weireld poser

Can Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur over­come Toby ab­sence?

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports International - LON­DON /

It is a mark of how far Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur have come that they start as favourites to win what could be a piv­otal Cham­pi­ons League Group “E” fix­ture away to Bayer Lev­erkusen on Tuesday de­spite the ab­sence of key de­fender Toby Alder­weireld.

Spurs have yet to con­firm that the Bel­gium cen­tre half has joined Eng­land striker Harry Kane as a non-starter but the man­ner in which Alder­weireld left the pitch clutch­ing his knee at West Bromwich Al­bion on Satur­day sug­gests he won’t fea­ture.

“It will be dif­fi­cult for him (Alder­weireld) to go,” said man­ager Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino, who added that fur­ther tests were be­ing con­ducted on Sun­day. Kane has been out for al­most a month with an an­kle in­jury with no date set for his re­turn.

Alder­weireld has been in com­mand­ing form along­side com­pa­triot Jan Ver­tonghen at the heart of a Spurs de­fence that is the Pre­mier League’s mean­est this sea­son.

But the Bel­gian’s in­flu­ence goes be­yond pre­vent­ing the op­po­si­tion scor­ing. His rak­ing cross­field balls, three of which were de­liv­ered with pin­point ac­cu­racy be­fore his in­jury on Satur­day, lay down the marker for the way Spurs play.

In Alder­weireld’s ab­sence, Po­chet­tino can ei­ther play Eric Dier or Kevin Wim­mer along­side Ver­tonghen in de­fence. Wim­mer, the Aus­tria cen­tre half, has been on the pe­riph­ery this sea­son but was a ca­pa­ble re­place­ment last term when called upon. In­juries apart, Tot­ten­ham travel to Ger­many awash with con­fi­dence as they pre­pare to play four games in 11 days.Mid­fielder Dele Alli said they should have won their Pre­mier League game at West Brom af­ter spurn­ing sev­eral chances.

“We have to keep go­ing and pick our­selves up but there are a lot of pos­i­tives,” he said. “In the next game we have to make sure we put them (chances) away. I can’t wait, we can get back out there and get some min­utes and get the win.”

While Spurs are the Pre­mier League’s only un­beaten side, they stum­bled badly in their open­ing Cham­pi­ons League group game with AS Monaco, who won 2-1 in front of over 85,000 at Wem­b­ley where Spurs are play­ing in the com­pe­ti­tion this sea­son whilst they start to build a new sta­dium at their home ground.

Tot­ten­ham bounced back to win 1-0 at CSKA Mos­cow in their next group match.

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