No operation for Dembele
Mousa Dembele will not have an operation on his injured hip and could return for Tottenham's north London derby against Arsenal, manager Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed.
Dembele has become a big hit with Spurs fans for his excellent performances in midfield, but the Londoners have had to do without the Belgian for the last five games after he aggravated an old hip injury while on international duty.
Villas-Boas said last Thursday he feared the 25-year-old could have to go under the knife to cure the problem - something which would have ruled him out for up to six weeks.
But a second scan on the injury confirmed that surgery would not definitely heal the problem and Villas-Boas has therefore decided to put the player on a course of physiotherapy that will see him miss games against Maribor and Manchester City, but he could be available to face Arsenal in 10 days' time.
The Spurs boss said: "We could either give him surgery immediately, but there is no certainty it will cure the problem, or he could rest, have manual therapy, train in the swimming pool. That allows the player the possibility of return within 10-15 days, so we are taking that option at the moment, without having the surgery."
While knowing he could have Dembele back for the Arsenal game is a boost, not having the player available for the team's next two games does disrupt Villas-Boas' plans. Tottenham have won just one of the five games since the Belgian suffered his injury but Villas-Boas is confident he has the strength in depth to cope.
"We had good games without Mousa," the 35-year-old said. "Against Chelsea we lost Gareth Bale and Mousa and we gave them a run for their money even though they were on an amazing run.
"We had extremely good games against Southampton and Norwich. Good players are missed but this squad is full of good players. I don't think it has affected the tempo and dynamic - it's more important to have players fully concentrated and motivated."
Villas-Boas made winning the Europa League one of his priorities when he joined Spurs this summer, but his team have registered three disappointing draws so far against Lazio, Panathinaikos and Maribor.
With an away game in Rome next up, Villas-Boas has no doubt about the importance of Thursday's clash against Slovenian champions Maribor. "Even though a defeat doesn't mathematically disqualify us, it is a game we have to win," he said. "We are in this competition to win it."