Jose Mourinho has claimed Tanguy Ndombele was not in the Tottenham squad to face Brighton because he was “not in condition” to play.
The Spurs boss explained that Ndombele was not injured, but rather he was worried about triggering a recurring muscle injury.
Why was Ndombele left out of the Spurs squad against Brighton? Five things to know…
- Ndombele has struggled with muscle injuries since arriving at Tottenham.
- There have been calls for him to start more often after impressive bursts of form.
- But Mourinho left him out of the squad altogether against Brighton on Boxing Day.
- After the game, Mourinho explained Ndombele was “not in condition” to play.
- He clarified that the midfielder was not injured but feared suffering further injuries.
Tottenham started slowly and had to come from a goal behind to beat Brighton 2-1 thanks to second-half strikes from Harry Kane and Dele Alli.
The Londoners struggled in central midfield, Ndombele’s position, where Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko failed to dictate the tempo of the game.
Speaking after the match, Mourinho revealed Ndombele had told him he did not feel ready to play in the Boxing Day fixture amid fears of suffering further muscle injuries.
“I cannot say he is injured,” Mourinho said. “In five minutes if we start a training session, and you can go to the stands and watch it, he is going to be training normally so I cannot say he is injured.
“I can say that yesterday he told me he was not feeling in condition to play the game.
“Not based on injuries, based on fears of previous injuries that he has had since the beginning of the season. Feeling not ready to start the game, but I cannot say he is injured, I can say he is not in condition to start the game, which is different.”
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Why are alarm bells ringing for Spurs fans?
Ndombele has suffered multiple muscle injuries already this season, so the Frenchman’s fear can be seen as valid – but Mourinho’s comments are somewhat worrying for Spurs fans.
The Portuguese is renowned for his preference of players who are willing to play through injuries. Take, for example, his post-match comments on Erik Lamela, who has been sidelined for the last several weeks.
“Lamela, he was fantastic,” Mourinho said. “I think it was 56 or 57 days that he didn’t train with the team. He was injured, he was training individually. He trained with the team twice, after 57 days he trained twice with the team and he came to me and said ‘I think you need me because you are in trouble with injuries, suspensions, no Sonny. If you want me I am there. If you need me for 10 or 15 minutes I’m there’.
“So he was there if we needed him to try to score a goal. He was there. That’s the kind of thing that touches me. I like players that make sacrifices for the team.”
The fact Mourinho highlighted Lamela’s attitude suggests he is not totally pleased with that of Ndombele. It will be interesting to see if the 22-year-old plays against Norwich this weekend — especially given that Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks are both suspended after picking up yellow cards against Brighton.