Tottenham could be without Serge Aurier for the remainder of the campaign after he returned to France today, while Tanguy Ndombele may have already played his last game for the club after being ruled out of their final two matches.
Aurier asked to play in Wednesday’s 3-1 win at St James’ Park but has now flown home to be with his family after his brother, Christopher, was shot dead in the early hours of Monday in Toulouse, France .
Harry Kane, who scored two second-half headers to surpass 200 club goals, afterwards dedicated the victory to Aurier, as Spurs closed to within a point of sixth-placed Wolves in the hunt for a Europa League place.
The club have set no timeframe on Aurier’s return and Jose Mourinho is prepared to be without the defender for Sunday’s visit of Leicester and the final day at Crystal Palace on July 26.
“If he decided to not play until the end of the season, we would respect that,” Mourinho said. “Every person has different ways to face tragedies like this one and he asked to play [last night].”
Mourinho afterwards hailed Aurier’s “very strong” character and, in the circumstances, the Ivorian could be forgiven for a poor clearance leading to Matt Ritchie’s 56th-minute equaliser which cancelled out Heung-min Son’s 11th League goal of the season midway through the first half.
Japhet Tanganga’s return to fitness has eased Mourinho’s concerns at right-back and the youngster is expected to fill in this weekend.
Mourinho also revealed that club-record signing Ndombele would play no further part in the campaign after suffering a knee injury in training on Monday.
It is a somewhat fitting end to a difficult maiden season in England for Ndombele, who has struggled with persistent muscle problems since joining Spurs last July and has failed to convince Mourinho of his fitness, playing just 64 minutes since the restart before sitting out last night.
The Portuguese has insisted Ndombele remains in his plans and Spurs have already rebuffed a part-exchange approach from Barcelona, but the 23-year-old faces an uncertain future ahead of the opening of the extended transfer window on July 27.
A resilient performance — and Mourinho’s first League win at St James’ Park — capped an impressive 10 days for Spurs, who have taken 10 points from four matches since the disastrous 3-1 defeat at Sheffield United.
Mourinho criticised his players’ mental strength after they collapsed following a tight VAR call at Bramall Lane, but this week they have shown mettle to hit back quickly against
Arsenal and Newcastle, with Kane’s cushioned header from substitute
Steven Bergwijn’s cross coming just four minutes after Ritchie’s thumping equaliser.
Asked if his players’ mentalities were improving, Mourinho said: “Yeah. Against Arsenal, it was the same. We conceded and then the reaction was automatic. It’s what you need.”