Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele is facing at least six weeks out with ankle ligament damage.
The 31-year-old was injured just seven minutes into Saturday’s 3-2 win at Wolves and is braced for a long lay-off after scans confirmed the club’s prognosis which could see him miss the rest of the calendar year.
Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele (centre) limped out of Saturday’s 3-2 win at Wolves
Scans have since confirmed that the Belgian, 31, suffered ligament damage in his right ankle
The Belgium international is in the final year of his contract and has been attracting enquiries from China with a possible move in the offing for January.
REMAINING SPURS FIXTURES IN 2018
Crystal Palace (A), PL – Nov 10
Chelsea (H), PL – Nov 24
Inter Milan (H), UCL – Nov 28
Arsenal (A), PL – Dec 2
Southampton (H), PL – Dec 5
Leicester (A), PL – Dec 8
Barcelona (A), UCL – Dec 11
Burnley (H), PL – Dec 15
Arsenal (A), EFL Cup – Dec 19
Everton (A), PL – Dec 23
Bournemouth (H), PL – Dec 26
Wolves (H), PL – Dec 29
Mauricio Pochettino will be disappointed by the news with Dembele such a key performer.
The robust midfielder has been feeling the toll in recent years of the physical demands of the Premier League and the club have been actively scouting to find a suitable replacement.
Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele and Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong have both been studied but their clubs are demanding between £40million to £55m.
Dembele has already missed four games due to a thigh injury earlier this season.
His absence leaves Spurs stretched in terms of midfield options, with Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier also currently missing through injury.
Wanyama may be fit to return from a knee injury at Palace on Saturday.
Meanwhile, left back Danny Rose is unlikely to return to the Tottenham side until a week after the international break.
Spurs ace Dembele fell awkwardly after being challenged by Wolves star Helder Costa (No 10)
Dembele’s team-mates looked concerned as they stood over the injured midfielder at Wolves
Pochettino is provisionally hoping Dembele can return in the first week of January, but was cautious in his expectations over the 31-year-old, whose enormous talent has regularly been undermined by injury at the club.
‘Always it’s about the patient, the player, and how he’s going to react after the injury,’ Pochettino said. ‘We hope he’ll be back as soon as possible and early in January to help the team to win games.
‘Always you miss all the players when they are injured. We were talking before, in 13 days we play five games. Every two and a half days we’re competing. It’s a massive effort for the players.’
Rose’s groin injury against Cardiff on October 6 was not initially thought to be serious. But after more than a month out, Pochettino has indicated he could yet miss the big clash with Chelsea on November 24 in the first game back after the international break.
By extension it could be tricky for him to feature in the crucial Champions League tie against Inter Milan on November 28.
Pochettino said: ‘It is a little bit longer than we expected, we will see if he will become available as soon as possible. We hope it will be after the international break – it might be difficult for the week after the international break but we will see.
‘We will see what the evolution is, it may be a situation that can change quick and be positive.’