Tottenham Hotspur look set to remain without Mousa Dembele for Saturday's (15 October) Premier League trip to West Bromwich Albion following a training setback. The skillful midfielder has not played since suffering a hamstring problem during the latter stages of a 1-0 victory over Sunderland last month, a match that also saw Eric Dier hobble off and Harry Kane suffer a serious-looking ankle issue.
Aside from a substitute's cameo in the opening Champions League defeat to Monaco at Wembley, that match against the Black Cats is Dembele's only appearance of the season to date. The 29-year-old, who signed a new contract in January that will keep him at White Hart Lane until the summer of 2019, missed the opening four matches of the new top-flight campaign due to a six-game violent conduct suspension handed down by the FA in May for an apparent eye gouge on Diego Costa administered during a feisty draw with London rivals Chelsea.
While Dembele's initial hamstring complaint was not thought to be serious, it has now emerged that the Belgium international, sidelined for his country's recent 2018 World Cup qualifying victories over Bosnia and Herzegovina and Gibraltar, is dealing with the recurrence of an old foot injury.
"He had a minor problem in his hamstring against Sunderland," Mauricio Pochettino was quoted as saying by the Press Association at a pre-match press conference held on Thursday lunchtime.
"Then it was good but he got a knock in his foot, an old problem, and now he's recovering from that. It was in training. It's minor but it's painful for him. When he touches the ball, it's painful for him."
Dembele will be fully assessed tomorrow to determine his availability for the weekend, while Pochettino is optimistic that Kane could begin training outside as early as next week. The England striker was initially feared lost for two months and Tottenham were reluctant to put an exact time frame upon his return until it was confirmed that the results of his second scan were much better than expected.
"At the end of this week, maybe he can start to train and touch the grass a little bit. He's very positive, he's doing well," the manager added. "We hope that next week he'll be training on the grass, on the pitch – still not with the group – but we're happy in the way he is recovering from his injury."