Tottenham Hotspur are set to restore several of their first-team players for the Premier League trip to Sunderland, manager Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed. The north London club made nine alterations for the FA Cup fourth-round win over Wycombe Wanderers but will recall their big-hitters for the trip to the Stadium of Light.
The likes of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, midfielder Christian Eriksen and top scorer Harry Kane were all omitted from the Spurs squad for the visit of the League Two opposition; changes which threatened to end the club's interest in the world's oldest cup competition. Wycombe led 3-2 with seven minutes remaining but substitute Dele Alli equalised before Son Heung-min struck deep into added-on time to claim a dramatic victory.
Midfielder Harry Winks labelled the performance from Tottenham's second string as "embarrassing" and Pochettino is set to react to the display in typically unceremonious fashion. With the club fighting on three fronts this term the Argentine boss will make a series of sweeping changes and indicated several of the players who struggled at Wycombe may not even be trusted to play when the Europa League resumes in February.
"We have a few players with some risk of getting injured and you need to rest because you cannot compete on Tuesday at Sunderland and then on Saturday against Middlesbrough," Pochettino said, according to Sky Sports. "We need the fans to understand that we cannot always play the same team – the same 11 players – because they are not machines, they are human.
"We will see [about the Europa League]. It's not clear. The first half [against Wycombe] was very difficult and we need to assess why and to analyse. If you play against Wycombe – a League Two club – it is true that is difficult because of their motivation and their excitement is massive, but I think we need to stop a little bit and say: 'Why not play one or another?' When you play Tottenham, you play Tottenham, and when you sign a player for your squad you need to be available to play, and be of enough quality to play in this type of game."
Victory over the Premier League's bottom club will help Tottenham cement their place in the top four and could even keep alive their slim hopes of challenge Chelsea for the title. The White Hart Lane club are nine points behind Antonio Conte's side with 16 games remaining, ahead of the Blues' trip to fourth place Liverpool.