Tottenham Hotspur welcome Newcastle United to north London in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
Spurs splashed out more than £150m in the summer transfer window but, after a concentrated spate of injuries, Antonio Conte joked that he may be next off the bench. “Fingers crossed,” the former Juventus midfielder laughed on Friday afternoon, “I hope to continue otherwise I have to put on the shoes to play!”
Here’s the XI – without himself – that Conte may deploy against Newcastle.
GK: Hugo Lloris – Tottenham’s number one made eight saves in Wednesday’s defeat to Manchester United, his highest tally in a single Premier League game since April.
CB: Cristian Romero – The front-foot Argentine leads Spurs for interceptions this season (22).
CB: Eric Dier – After taking two firmly struck balls to the face, Dier was forced off for the final nine minutes in midweek, the first seconds of Premier League football he has missed this season.
CB: Clement Lenglet – The Barcelona loanee has been used intermittently this season and is yet to be part of a Premier League clean sheet.
RWB: Emerson Royal – With his suspension concluded, Conte all but confirmed that Emerson would replace the tiring Matt Doherty while he continues to wait for Djed Spence “to improve”.
CM: Rodrigo Bentancur – Andrea Pirlo once said that Conte’s words “assault you”. Bentancur was on the end of a sharp-tongued barb from his manager against Manchester United when Conte shouted: “Pass the ball, pass the ball,” followed by a name which didn’t sound much like Rodrigo.
CM: Yves Bissouma – The former Brighton midfielder is unbeaten in seven career appearances against Newcastle, keeping five clean sheets in the process (W3 D4).
CM: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – Jose Mourinho described the inquisitive midfielder as “a pain, always asking questions why we do this and that”. Given the unsuccessful and underwhelming nature of his spell in north London, Hojbjerg probably wasn’t the only one questioning Mourinho’s approach.
LWB: Ivan Perisic – Since arriving at Spurs in the summer, only Harry Kane (15) has played more open-play passes into the box than the experienced wingback (14).
ST: Harry Kane – Tottenham’s talisman has been directly involved in eight goals (five scored, three assisted) across his last five appearances against Newcastle.
ST: Son Heung-min – In stark contrast to the repeated calls for more concern about player welfare – some of which have been made by his own teammates – Son described the hectic schedule as “living the dream”.