Mourinho’s case for a new striker was strengthened, as Harry Kane came off the bench to help rescue his side in North Macedonia, after the hosts had punished Spurs’s profligacy with a brilliant second-half equaliser to cancel out Erik Lamela’s early strike.
Spurs are also looking to add a centre-half — possibly Milan Skriniar, of Inter Milan, or Benfica’s Ruben Dias — before the close of the transfer window on October 5 but they are prioritising offloading unwanted players like Danny Rose and Juan Foyth, and exploring part-exchange deals.
Goals from Heung-min Son and Kane after Valmir Nafiu’s screamer ensured Spurs finished comfortably and set up a one-off play-off against Maccabi Haifa, of Israel, next Thursday for a place in the Europa League group stage.
Mourinho said after the game: “The market is open, we have a good squad. Can we have a better squad than we have now? Yes, we can. Is the club trying to build that balanced squad that we all want, yes we are trying. Let’s see if that’s possible.”
In lieu of Kane, the Spurs manager started with Son up front after his four-goal haul at St Mary’s on Sunday, but afterwards pointedly said the South Korean was “not a striker”. Spurs remain interested in Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik but would prefer a loan deal for the Pole.
Mourinho has already signed a new No9, but Gareth Bale is still several weeks from fitness, although the Portuguese did not rule out Sergio Reguilon starting against Newcastle on Sunday in the Premier League.
“Sergio will train with us tomorrow,” he said last night. “The information I got today from the people that stayed behind was that he had a complete session today and tomorrow he joins the group.
“Maybe not match fit, but not injured any more and ready to train with the team. Gareth will take a little bit longer, so no chance for the weekend.”
Tanguy Ndombele started for the second match running last night and completed 90 minutes for the first time this year.
“He played very well,” Mourinho said. “In a game where our percentage of ball possession was very, very high and our percentage is high, he feels much more comfortable.
But even without the ball he had recovery, he had duels, he had defensive transition. Can he play Sunday? I’m not sure. It’s the first time he played 90 minutes, we have to see how he recovers.”
Mourinho revealed after last night’s game that Spurs had demanded the goalposts be changed after his goalkeepers noticed they were 5cm too short in the warm-up.
“The goalkeepers spend hours in the goal, so they know when they are not the right dimension,” Mourinho said. “We got the delegate to confirm and, yes, it was smaller, so we demanded the goals to be replaced.”
Shkendija, who were not playing at their home stadium, denied knowledge of the error.
Meanwhile, the EFL this morning confirmed that Spurs have been awarded a bye against Leyton Orient in the Carabao Cup and will face Chelsea next Tuesday.
Orient had given up their bid to have the abandoned third-round tie rescheduled after it was called off following an outbreak of coronavirus cases at the League Two club.