Toby Alderweireld
Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld suffered a hamstring tear against Real Madrid in early November Getty Images

Long-term absentee Toby Alderweireld is closing in on a return to action for Tottenham Hotspur, with reports stating that the versatile defender is hoping to make his comeback in the heavyweight Premier League clash against Liverpool on 4 February.

Usually one of the first names on Mauricio Pochettino's teamsheet, Alderweireld has not featured for Spurs since tearing his hamstring during the first half of the memorable 3-1 Champions League win over holders Real Madrid on 1 November.

The Belgian international's issue turned out to be worse than first feared and estimations regarding the length of his lay-off were extended until after the New Year.

He later warned of the risk of a relapse that would require surgery and underwent a scan in December to determine the status of his recovery.

Pochettino then claimed that Alderweireld, who missed almost two months of last season with a freak knee problem he described as "one in a million", would not be able to play again until February.

That timeline appears to remain intact, with ESPN reporting that the 28-year-old has commenced outdoor training alone and hopes to rejoin his teammates in full first-team training next week.

It is presumed that the FA Cup fourth-round trip to Newport County and the visit of Manchester United - in addition to Sunday's (21 January) encounter with Southampton - will come too soon for Alderweireld, who is recently said to have engaged in more talks aimed at resolving his current contract impasse.

Instead, he is believed to be targeting the meeting with Liverpool at Anfield, when Spurs will seek to provide a repeat of their thumping 4-1 victory over Jurgen Klopp's in-form side at Wembley Stadium in October.

Harry Winks setback

While Alderweireld's imminent return should come as a real boost to Tottenham, less welcome is the news that Harry Winks has suffered a setback.

The academy graduate midfielder, 21, is nursing a persistent ankle problem and has not been involved since making a six-minute substitute cameo in the 5-2 thrashing of Southampton on Boxing Day. Such a complaint also saw him miss the win over Burnley three days earlier.

Winks is now likely to miss another fortnight, while Danny Rose is expecting to be ready for the meeting with United on 31 January.

The England left-back, who previously spent nine months in the treatment room, re-injured his surgically repaired knee over the festive period and found it "impossible" to train, yet thankfully subsequent scans showed that latest blow was not serious.

Tottenham currently sit fifth in the Premier League and three points adrift of the top four. The club have yet to make any real moves in the transfer window other than recalling Cameron Carter-Vickers from Sheffield United and loaning Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and Marcus Edwards to Burnley and Norwich City respectively, although have been linked with the likes of Stevenage defender and Liverpool target Ben Wilmot, Fulham prodigy Ryan Sessegnon and North Korean teenager Han Kwang-song.