Mauricio Pochettino believes Toby Alderweireld could make a surprise return next week as Tottenham prepare to face Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League without their key defender.
Alderweireld was carried off on a stretcher during Saturday's draw against West Brom with what appeared to be pain in his knee, prompting fears the Belgian could face a lengthy spell on the sidelines. The problem, however, is not as serious as first feared. Spurs were yet to receive the results of a scan but Pochettino believes Alderweireld could recover next week, putting him in line to play against Leicester in 11 days' time. "We need to wait for the scan but we believe it's not a big issue," Pochettino said.
"He got a knock on his leg but it was better yesterday and today. We need to wait for the results of the scan but I hope it's nothing important. In the moment he went down it was tough and from our position it was difficult to see what had happened.
"But it wasn't a big issue, a big knock, a heavy knock in his leg but we hope it's not a big problem for the next week."
Alderweireld's absence in the short-term, however, is a major blow for Tottenham, given he has been a star performer under Pochettino and integral to the team boasting the Premier League's best defensive record so far this season.
The most likely replacement in Germany is Eric Dier, who replaced his injured team-mate against West Brom, and whose place in midfield has become less essential due to the excellent form of Victor Wanyama.
Tottenham can ill-afford a slip-up against Leverkusen, who have drawn both of their opening two games in Group E but can climb above their opponents with a victory. Avoiding defeat at the BayArena and a win in the reverse fixture at Wembley next month would leave Spurs in a commanding position to qualify.
"It's important, we must win," Pochettino said. "If we want to go to the next round this is key to take three points from this game and to play at Wembley the same way.
"The next two games against Leverkusen for us hold the key to the possibility of going to the next round."