Tottenham are waiting for news on how Jan Vertonghen’s assessment with an independent neurologist went before deciding whether he will be fit to face Bournemouth.
The Belgium defender suffered a sickening head injury in Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat to Ajax and – after briefly trying to return to action – retched on the side of the pitch and had to be helped down the tunnel, barely able to walk unaided.
The decision to allow Vertonghen to come back on has sparked a debate about concussion protocol, even though Spurs say their defender passed all relevant tests – and their treatment and actions have been backed by UEFA.
Vertonghen also came through further tests on Wednesday, but was sent to an independent specialist on Thursday for a final assessment.
And manager Mauricio Pochettino has not ruled him out of making the side for the Premier League trip to Bournemouth on Saturday lunchtime.
“Today was his appointment with the specialist and we still haven’t seen the report,” Pochettino said.
“After the game he was good, he was more relaxed and felt better. Now we need to see the report from the specialist.
“We don’t know (about Bournemouth), we need to wait, that is going to be a decision from the medical staff. We need to wait, we cannot guess now. We hope it is not a big issue and he is available soon.”
Brain injury charity Headway have called for ‘concussion substitutions’ to be used to allow medical staff more time to assess injured players – an idea that FIFA are open to discussing.
Headway chief executive Peter McCabe said in a statement: “We are delighted to hear that FIFA is finally willing to listen to our repeated calls to do more to protect players from concussion.
“For many years we have been saying more needs to be done, but these calls have been ignored.
“There have been repeated high-profile incidents highlighting the inadequacies of concussion protocols in the sport, along with an apparent inability or disinclination to enforce them.
“It is vital that we better protect footballers from the dangers of continuing to play after sustaining a concussion – particularly those playing at grass-roots level.
“Introducing temporary concussion substitutes, and allowing for longer, off-pitch assessments to be made, is one simple way to address some of the shortcomings in the system.
“If FIFA and UEFA are indeed ready to accept change needs to happen, we would be delighted to meet with them to assist in the process.”
@HeadwayUK believe the time has come for football to introduce temporary concussion substitutions that would allow for longer off-pitch assessments to be conducted #concussionaware @alanshearer @mrdanwalker @GaryLineker @chris_sutton73 @DionDublinsDube https://t.co/zqbiHWtTE0— Headway - the brain injury association (@HeadwayUK) May 1, 2019
And Pochettino is also open to any changes that could be made to help the situation.
“Always in that situation, I’m more than open to improve the decisions,” he added. “I think the most important thing for us is – and always will be – the health of the players.
“The game, the result in the semi-final of the Champions League is less important than the health of the players. That’s our priority always.
“I don’t know if we need to change the rules, have another doctor. I don’t have the capacity to make some decisions.
“For me, at every single of my clubs, Espanyol, Southampton and now at Tottenham, the doctors are independent, all the decisions they make are protecting the health of the players. That’s my rule.
“If the doctor says he has some doubt I am more than happy to change the player.
“I am not going to put any player in risk.
“Then it’s about creating a debate and finding the best solution. For me it is so easy, if the doctor has a minimum doubt I am more than happy to support the doctor.”