Jose Mourinho is without a couple of his key players for Tottenham’s Europa League Round of 16 second leg clash against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday evening.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will miss the game out in Croatia through suspension, with Son Heung-min injured and Joe Rodon ineligible as he is not part of Spurs’ European squad.
However, there is some good news for the boss on the injury front with Giovani Lo Celso returning to the squad for the first time since December after recovering from a hamstring injury and a back issue that forced him to miss out last week.
Mourinho has often named a number of the club’s talented youngsters in his matchday squad in the competition so far this season but he didn’t do that in the first leg with pretty much everyone to pick from bar Lo Celso.
Given he is definitely without Hojbjerg and Son, the boss appears to have delved into the academy once again ahead of the crucial Europa League game.
In a video uploaded to the club’s Twitter page, young striker Dane Scarlett could be seen boarding the plane to Croatia with his teammates as could defender Marcel Lavinier.
The former has made two appearances in the competition so far this season and has been an unused substitute on three occasions, with the latter making his senior bow for the Lilywhites in the second leg of their Round of 32 game at home to Wolfsberger AC.
While Mourinho has admitted that it is not “game over” just yet despite the 2-0 advantage, he may be tempted to give the young duo minutes in the second half providing of course that Spurs are safely through to the final eight by then.
Speaking to the media to preview the game, Mourinho outlined his stance ahead of the second leg and stated that Spurs would not be going to sit back and defend their two-goal cushion.
“I don’t think it’s such a good lead. I feel it’s open, I don’t feel it’s game over, if we go away and we lose 2-0 and we play the second leg at home, I don’t feel it’s over,” he admitted.
“I would feel it’s very difficult but open so the way to approach the game is to think that way and to think that we still have a match to play and to get a positive result.
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“At the end of the 90 minutes, if we lose 1-0 or we lose 2-1 or even 3-1, we would qualify but if we qualify with a defeat in this game, I will not be happy.
“That’s the way I want the players to think and that’s the way we want to play. We don’t go there to defend a lead, we go there to win a game.”
Lavinier and Scarlett were the only two youngsters spotted boarding the flight, with first-team regulars such as Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris, Tanguy Ndombele and Gareth Bale also there as the boss takes no chances with a place in the final not that far away.