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Mauricio Pochettino: Hugo Lloris loss will not be Spurs' undoing

By Tom Collomosse

Hugo Lloris faces a race against time to recover for the next stage of Tottenham's title challenge after he was ruled out for at least two matches with a shoulder injury.

The France goalkeeper, who is Spurs' captain, sustained the damage during the closing minutes of last Sunday's 2-1 win at Manchester City, as he pushed away a cross from Sergio Aguero.

Lloris indicated immediately after the game that he was healthy but he did not travel to Italy for tonight's Europa League last-32 tie at Fiorentina. Head coach Mauricio Pochettino also said Lloris would miss Sunday's FA Cup fifth-round tie at home to Crystal Palace.

"It's a very small injury and we hope he will be ready to play again in the second leg against Fiorentina next Thursday," said Pochettino.

"There is always an impact - Hugo is our captain and a very important player. But we have Michel Vorm to replace him, who is a top goalkeeper, and we believe in him and trust in him. We need to assess Hugo during the week to see if he is available next Thursday, but for the first leg against Fiorentina he is out, and he will miss the game against Palace, too."

Tonight's first leg in Florence is the first of three consecutive cup matches Spurs must face before turning their attention again to Premier League duty, when Swansea City visit White Hart Lane on 28 February.

Vorm's inclusion in place of Lloris is unlikely to be the only change to the Tottenham starting XI as Pochettino shuffles his pack.

Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, the full-backs who started at the Etihad Stadium, should be replaced by Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies, while Tom Carroll, Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela are also expected to start.

The teams also locked horns at this same stage of the Europa League 12 months ago and if they finish their respective domestic campaigns strongly, Spurs and Fiorentina could meet in European competition for the third season in succession. Next time, though, it might be in the Champions League.

Spurs are only two points behind league leaders Leicester while Fiorentina are third in Serie A, which would secure a place in Europe's main club competition.

The Italians' coach, Paulo Sousa, compared this tie to a Champions League match and Pochettino added: "I agree, because of the level our teams have shown. We must work hard to ensure we are in next season's Champions League."

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