Christian Eriksen, Hugo Lloris and Erik Lamela are among seven Tottenham Hotspur first-team players set to miss the FA Cup fourth-round trip to Newport County. just days before the visit of Manchester United in the Premier League.
Illness has struck down both Eriksen and Lloris for the clash at Rodney Parade on Saturday (27 January), while the game also comes too soon for Toby Alderweireld, who has returned to training after over two months out with a hamstring injury.
Serge Aurier, who limped off during the 1-1 draw with Southampton last weekend, is out with a calf problem, while Erik Lamela has a bruised buttock muscle which ensures he misses the game. Danny Rose and Harry Winks are longer-term absentees and both remain sidelined after spells out with knee and ankle problems respectively.
Both Alderweireld and Rose are operating with the rest of the Tottenham first team but Pochettino was keen to stress that they need to make a major step up to be ready for a senior return – making a start against United next Wednesday unlikely.
"They were integrated into the group in this last week, in the case of Toby today (25 January), this was his third day with the team," he said, according to Football.London. "Danny Rose and different players are doing the same, similar situation.
"We need to decide tomorrow on everyone. It's one thing to be fit to integrate again with the team and another to be fit to play. Two different things and of course we are professionals and we need to take care of every player and then take the best decision for the team.
"I don't know [if they could play]. They need to build their fitness, they integrate slowly with the team. But I repeat it's not the same to be integrating and start training with the team and be fit to play. It's a massive step in between."
It remains to be seen whether any of the seven players can recover in time to face United but particularly in the case of Alderweirld and Rose – both of whom have chequered recent injury records – it is likely that Pochettino will have wanted to give the duo at least a brief run-out this weekend before considering them to face Jose Mourinho's men.
The volume of absentees could mean that Pochettino is denied the chance to rest leading scorer Harry Kane, with Pochettino open to naming him in the starting XI. However, the Tottenham boss is ready to ring the changes in other areas and is keen to call on members of the club's Under-23 side to supplement the squad.
The Argentine coach watched the opening 45 minutes of the second string's 3-3 draw with Benfica on Thursday – Anthony Georgiou and Kazaiah Sterling, both of whom made their senior debuts in the Champions League this season, featured – and the pair could travel alongside Tashan Oakley-Booth.
"I think Tashan will be involved in the squad," he added. "I was watching the first half of the Under-23s today and maybe we are going to pick some players from the Under-23s to travel tomorrow."
Though United are not without injuries themselves – Eric Bailly remains out with ankle surgery and Michael Carrick has not played since undergoing a minor heart procedure – most of the attention will be on Alexis Sanchez who could make his Premier League debut against the biggest rivals of his former club Arsenal.
In eight previous appearances against Tottenham, Sanchez came out on the winning side just three times, scoring twice. While the first of those came in a 2-2 draw back in 2016, his second inspired the Gunners to a 2-0 win over their North London counterparts earlier this term.