Nuno Espirito Santo looks set to alter his plans for Tottenham’s game against Newcastle after Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni made it clear no players will be departing international duty early.
Seeing Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Romero and Davinson Sanchez head off to South America last month to play in World Cup qualifiers, the trio subsequently missed two Spurs games after spending ten days in Croatia prior to returning to Hotspur Way.
With the rules at the time stating that anyone returning to the UK from a country on the red list must isolate in a government-designated hotel for ten days, the Tottenham players instead headed to Croatia with one of the club’s coaching staff to train outdoors before heading back to the capital without quarantining.
Coming to an agreement with Argentina and Colombia that the players would be released early and only play in the first two of their three qualifiers, that is not going to be the case this time around.
Speaking ahead of their game against Paraguay on Thursday evening, Argentina boss Scaloni said: “We are not going to do the same as last time with the Premier League players.
“Before the game with Venezuela I said that they came to play all three games but the players raised a difficult decision for me and I understood it, I released them.
“Now the players are here to play the three games. Under no point of view they will leave earlier.”
Lo Celso, Romero and Sanchez aren’t Tottenham’s only South American players involved in the qualifiers this time as new signing Emerson Royal has been included in Brazil’s squad for their three upcoming fixtures.
However, one positive compared to back in September is that the Government announced last Friday that players would be able to train and play upon their return while isolating at club facilities, providing they were full jabbed.
Espirito Santo was asked for an update regarding the quartet following Tottenham’s win over Aston Villa and he confirmed that a repeat of September would not happen again.
“I can update, they will go and they will return and they will return on different situations,” explained the 47-year-old.
“They they will have to isolate, but we are fortunate enough to have the Lodge and work normally with the team.”
The problem facing Espirito Santo now, however, is that his players will be returning rather late as the team prepare for their trip to St James’ Park on the Sunday afternoon to take on Newcastle United.
Argentina’s last game of the international break takes places just after midnight (UK time) next Friday morning, with Brazil’s encounter against Uruguay commencing at 1:30am.
Colombia are also in action but their fixture at home to Ecuador will finish a few hours earlier as it is due to start at 10pm (UK time) on Thursday evening.
Following Scaloni’s comments about his Premier League players not returning to their clubs early, Brazil coach Tite has also made it clear that Emerson and Co will be there for all three games.
“There was never that possibility [of them returning to England early]. They were called up for the three games,” he stated.
Given that Sanchez will be playing late on Thursday evening and Romero, Lo Celso and Emerson doing likewise but in the early hours of Friday morning, it is going to be an extremely quick turnaround for the quartet if they are to feature at all on Tyneside.
Factor in the flight back from South America, as well as three games in just over a week, and it appears that Espirito Santo will have to make do without his players at St James’ Park as they are extremely unlikely to be in the right condition to play.
From the latest transfer news to those glorious wins in north London and beyond! There might even be a laugh or two too.
That means that the head coach will unfortunately have to change a winning team for the game at Newcastle, with both Romero and Emerson impressing in defence against Aston Villa and playing their part in the crucial victory.
The likely absence of Romero and Sanchez will once again open the door for Joe Rodon to come in at centre-back and make his case for a regular spot in Espirito Santo’s team, with Japhet Tanganga and Matt Doherty competing for the right-back position.
It’s certainly not an ideal situation for Espirito Santo to be in but at least this time his players will be able to return to Hotspur Way right away rather than heading to Croatia for a ten-day training camp.
Three points is again a must when they visit Newcastle but it seems that the boss will now have to achieve that target with a different Tottenham backline once more.