Tottenham Hotspur and England defender Kyle Walker could be just weeks away from a return from an abdominal injury that has threatened to derail his career, his manager Mauricio Pochettino has revealed.
Walker hasn't played since March due an abdominal problem that saw him undergo surgery in September, with Pochettino unwilling to shed light on the 24-year-old defender's injury problems.
But, ahead of the Europa League visit of Partizan Belgrade, the Tottenham boss has finally opened up regarding Walker's potential return from injury, claiming the England international could play before the end of the year after returning to training this week.
"Kyle Walker will not be involved," Pochettino said: "Not at the moment, maybe in the next few weeks. Maybe then he has the possibility to be involved."
Though Tottenham are not short of options in defence, the lack of balance and thrust going forward from right-back with Kyle Naughton and Eric Dier employed in Walker's absence has been noticeably lacking.
Walker last played in March's Europa League defeat to Benfica and missed the World Cup as well as the harrowing opening few months of Pochettino's reign in charge at White Hart Lane.
Spurs have lost more home league games than any other side in the Premier League, with each defeat to Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United and Stoke City having followed a mid-week game in the Europa League.
And though Tottenham face fellow Europa League competitors Everton on Sunday 30 November, Pochettino has appealed to the Premier League to give clubs playing on a Thursday extra rest following their European exploits.
"Maybe it is a good idea," Pochettino said, responding to being asked about an extra day of rest. "For Sunday, we are in the same position as Everton. They play in Germany [at Wolfsburg] and we play at home.
"Yes, maybe it is a good idea to play Monday. Why not? One day more is good for the players to recover. Yes, maybe it is a good idea.
"One day extra is very good for the players to recover because maybe you play in Turkey, Serbia or Greece and you arrive 4am. It changes your sleep and after it is Friday, you need to train, then Saturday, then Sunday you play at one o'clock. It is very difficult for the players."