Ryan Mason
Ryan Mason is closing in on a return from the ankle injury he suffered against Chelsea in November AFP

Tottenham look set to be handed an injury boost ahead of their upcoming Premier League double-header against Norwich and Watford after Mauricio Pochettino revealed that Ryan Mason could return to full training on 1 February. The England midfielder has been sidelined for two months as a result of an ankle injury sustained during the goalless draw with Chelsea in November 2015, with a brief return to the substitutes' bench against Watford his only first-team involvement since then.

Also suffering from a persistent ankle problem is Alex Pritchard. Having impressed during a season-long spell with Championship play-off semi-finalists Brentford in 2014/15, the 22-year-old returned to his parent club last summer before being named by Gareth Southgate in England's squad for the European Under-21 Championship in the Czech Republic. He suffered the problem during a group stage clash with Sweden and was later forced to withdraw from the tournament altogether before undergoing surgery in October.

Tottenham travel to League One relegation candidates Colchester United in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday (30 January). And while that match will definitely come too soon for Mason and Pritchard, both players are edging closer to making their respective returns.


"Ryan Mason and Alex Pritchard are out but they're very close to training with the team again," Pochettino was quoted as saying by the club before his delayed pre-match press conference. "Maybe Mason will be back in full training with the team on Monday."

Even with Mason absent, Tottenham are certainly not short of options in central midfield. Dele Alli has proved a revelation during his first full season at White Hart Lane, while the versatile Eric Dier has adapted extremely well to his new holding role. Mousa Dembele, who has just signed a new three-year contract, is also able to sit deep or play further forward if required. Tom Carroll and Nabil Bentaleb are also available for selection, although the latter has made only five appearances in the Premier League since recovering from his own ankle injury.

Pochettino is likely to make several changes to his squad for a Saturday lunchtime kick-off at the Colchester Community Stadium. The likes of Michel Vorm, Kevin Wimmer, Ben Davies, Carroll and Bentaleb are all expected to feature, although Jan Vertonghen is set to be sidelined for several weeks at least after damaging his medial collateral ligament during the 3-1 win at Crystal Palace. Clinton Njie also remains out after requiring surgery on a knee injury picked up against Monaco in December.

Vertonghen sustained his injury just moments after being caught with an elbow during a collision with Connor Wickham at a corner. While the incident was initially missed by referee Martin Atkinson, the Palace striker was retrospectively charged with violent conduct by the Football Association (FA) and has now been handed a three-match ban.

"Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today [Friday 29 January], Connor Wickham will serve a three-match suspension with immediate effect," the FA confirmed in an official statement.

"The Crystal Palace forward was charged with violent conduct following an incident with Tottenham Hotspur's Jan Vertonghen in the 69th minute of the game on Saturday [23 January 2016], which was not seen by the match officials but caught on video. Wickham admitted the charge but mitigated against the standard three-match suspension, however, this was rejected by the Independent Regulatory Commission."