Jose Mourinho pondering priorities as Burnley and Leipzig await injury-hit Spurs

By Jonathan Veal, PA
PA Media: Sport

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho says he will ask the club which of their next two games they want him to prioritise.

Spurs visit Burnley on Saturday evening in what is a vital match in their bid to reach the Premier League top four, before heading to RB Leipzig needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit to keep their Champions League hopes alive.

They are in the midst of four fixtures in 10 days and are battling an injury crisis that is keeping Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Moussa Sissoko, Ryan Sessegnon and Hugo Lloris out, while Erik Lamela is unable to train and only fit for the bench.

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After his patched-up side crashed out of the FA Cup on Wednesday, losing on penalties to Norwich after the match ended 1-1 after 120 minutes, Mourinho said he was unable to give both matches his best attention.

“In this moment I have to think about what’s next,” he told BBC Sport. “To be honest, I have to think and I have to speak with my club because I think some of these boys, to have a chance to fight Tuesday for a Champions League position, they just can’t play Saturday.

“In this moment I am really sad for the players and the fans, but I am thinking already about what next and I am really, really worried about playing in two days.

“Trying to give my boys a chance to go to Leipzig with a maximum of conditions to fight against a fresh team, a team with incredible solutions and options and rotations.

  • Wolves (h) - March 1 (lost 3-2)

  • Norwich (h) - March 4 (lost 3-2 on penalties)

  • Burnley (a) - March 7

  • RB Leipzig (a) March 10

“I have to think about a Saturday match and a Tuesday match and try to decide which one is the priority and which one is the one where I can give some of my boys under huge fatigue the best possible chance.”

Without any recognised strikers, barring an untried 18-year-old Troy Parrott, Mourinho has been flogging Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura and all three had to come off against the Canaries.

“I have to say that Bergwijn, Lucas, Dele, all of them they told me I can’t carry on. I’m completely dead,” Mourinho added.

“Other players on the pitch they were also in big trouble. For example (Giovani) Lo Celso was in big trouble and was absolutely phenomenal.”

Tim Krul, left, admitted to playing with Troy Parrott’s mind ahead of his penalty (John Walton/PA)
Tim Krul, left, admitted to playing with Troy Parrott’s mind ahead of his penalty (John Walton/PA)

Spurs would have made it through to the FA Cup quarter-finals had it not been for Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul.

Krul made three excellent saves during the 120 minutes before enhancing his reputation as a specialist at penalty shootouts, keeping out efforts from Parrott and Gedson Fernandes while also seeing Lamela hit the crossbar.

Footage showed Krul, who was brought on for a shootout for Holland in the 2014 World Cup, had a list of each of Tottenham player’s penalty preference stuck to his water bottle and insisted preparation is the key.

“For me personally, I look at the player. Who’s confident and who’s not,” Krul told the Pink Un. “The young lad, Parrott, I played a little bit with his head.

“I said, ‘I haven’t seen many penalties from you when I’ve done my homework’ and he just looked at me.

“This is when you have to forget about everything and just go back to what I know and what I’ve learnt with my experience from Brazil to wait on the line and react to the shot.

“It’s hard work, homework. Most of them were right. To be honest, I started mixing up the players a little bit because I thought Gedson was taking two penalties at one stage.

“I prepared before the game with clips and even before the shootout I did some homework. The moment was there – Lamela changed his usual side but luckily enough he hit it over the crossbar.”

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