Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Mousa Dembele is available to feature in Thursday night's (4 January) Premier League derby clash with London rivals West Ham United after recovering from his latest injury setback, the club have confirmed.
The Belgian international started for Spurs in their emphatic Boxing Day drubbing of Southampton, yet missed the 2-0 defeat of bottom club Swansea City in wet and windy South Wales on Tuesday due to a hip issue.
Dembele was initially considered as doubtful for Tottenham's second game in a 48-hour span, yet it was revealed this morning that he was in contention for the third meeting of the season against West Ham at Wembley Stadium having now returned to full first-team training.
It has been something of a frustrating, stop-start 2017-18 campaign thus far for arguably the club's most gifted and skilled technician, whom manager Mauricio Pochettino previously mentioned alongside Diego Maradona, Ronaldinho, Jay-Jay Okocha and Ivan de la Pena as one of five "geniuses" he has had the pleasure to work with throughout his career.
Dembele underwent surgery during the summer on a persistent foot problem that plagued him throughout last season and also missed more than a month of action with an ankle complaint earlier this term before suffering a hip injury that left him unable to cope with the intensity of training.
Big-spending Serie A outfit AC Milan, hoping to ease the pressure on summer signing Franck Kessie, were recently said to have made inquiries as to the availability of a player who has been limited to only nine league starts since August.
Fifth-place Tottenham will remain without long-term absentee Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) against West Ham as they seek to narrow the gap to the top four to just a solitary point, stating that Dembele's versatile compatriot is continuing his recovery with outdoor work. Left-back Danny Rose, meanwhile, is still "undergoing assessment" on a knee issue that ruled him out of the trip to Swansea.
The problem is said to be with the same knee that he damaged in January before spending almost nine months on the sidelines and Pochettino said after Tuesday's win that the injury made it "impossible" for Rose - who continues to be linked with a potential move to Manchester United - to train. He stated that it was difficult to envisage him being involved against West Ham.
Kane to start?
Harry Kane began the Swansea match on the bench after suffering with an illness, but replaced deputy Fernando Llorente with 22 minutes remaining and played a key role in Dele Alli's late goal.
Pochettino is hopeful that his influential top scorer will be ready to return to the starting lineup for the visit of a Hammers side that escaped the relegation zone with a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion last time out.
"Yes, we'll see," he was quoted as saying by The Independent. "I think our decision was good because you can see on the pitch, it was difficult to run, after a few days with antibiotics. I think, yes, we hope now is going well and can be ready for West Ham. But, the same [situation], we need to see him and decide."
The Argentine, unlike several of his top-flight managerial colleagues, had no complaints over the quick fixture turnaround given that it is the same for both teams but did confirm that he would "maybe rotate, make some changes to give some fresh legs to the team".