Tottenham Hotspur will attempt to overturn their first leg defeat to Benfica in Thursday's Europa League clash at the hostile Estádio da Luz in Lisbon with no available centre halves in a squad supplemented by a host of untested academy players.
Tim Sherwood has selected a squad with 11 members of his side unavailable for Thursday evening's clash in Lisbon, including the injured trio of Vlad Chiriches, Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul with Jan Vertonghen missing through suspension.
The club's attempts to overturn last week's 3-1 defeat to the Portuguese giants at White Hart Lane will also be hampered by the absence of Hugo Lloris, Emmanuel Adebayor, Paulinho, Kyle Walker and Mousa Dembele, in addition to long term absentees Etienne Capoue and Erik Lamela, the club's website confirmed.
Sherwood is likely to have little option but to pair midfielder Sandro with left back Zeki Fryers at the heart of defence and such paucity of options has left him with no choice but to include a number of untested academy graduates in his travelling squad.
"It would be massive to win this – there would be no bigger than this one," Sherwood told reporters. "We've got an uphill task and we know that.
"I won't throw any of them on unless I need to. There's a time and a place to blood young talent," Sherwood told reporters.
"Unless we absolutely need to they won't be thrown into this lion's den because you could end up killing someone's career before it's even started.
"Some of these boys are apprentices. These boys are young kids, nowhere near ready to play in Tottenham's first team.
"It is needs must. They are next in line to play. We've got a crippling injury list back at home. It really is severe and we're having to bring these boys."
Tottenham's provisional squad includes Jordan Archer, Luke McGee, Alexander McQueen, Milos Veljkovic, Dominic Ball, Connor Ogilvie, Harry Winks and 16-year-old attacking midfielder Joshua Onomah.
In addition to a major injury crisis, Sherwood's war of words with his Benfica counterpart Jorge Jesus has also worked as another talking point overshadowing Tottenham's efforts to remain in the competition.
The two clashed in last week's first leg encounter and despite the Benfica boss claiming their confrontation was now "water under the bridge" Sherwood has refused to draw a line under the spat.
"I know exactly where he was coming from and I know what I saw. I have got no respect for the man," Sherwood added.
"I've got respect for the football club and I've got respect for his players. The club is a huge club and we've had a lot of emails from Benfica fans apologising for their manager's behaviour. At the end of the day, I will shake his hand, because they are a giant of a club."