Tottenham Hotspur will kick off their 2018/19 campaign away to Newcastle United this Saturday without a host of first-team starts, with Fernando Llorente likely to deputise for talisman Harry Kane up front.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino has had to endure a frustrating summer, with a large chunk his squad returning late to pre-season due to their excursions at the World Cup in Russia and has told the club’s official website some of these stars will not start this weekend.
“We need to assess the players tomorrow and then we’ll decide,” the Spurs boss said.
“It’s difficult to think that all the players are going to play in the starting 11 – some players will be in the starting 11, some on the bench and some will be out, trying to get fitter.
“There are a lot of question marks and it’s about finding a good balance for the team. We’ll decide tomorrow.”
Tottenham made history this week, becoming the first Premier League side to fail to sign a single player during the summer transfer window, leaving Pochettino with no new faces to call upon as they look to improve on last term’s third-place finish.
Spurs were heavily linked with a move for Aston Villa’s young star Jack Grealish and despite being prepared to pay up to £25 million for the winger, the 22-year-old was denied a move to London and will continue to ply his trade in the Championship.
It will, however, be a first full season for Tottenham winger Lucas Moura, who arrived from French giants Paris Saint-Germain back in January and the Brazil international is likely to start the match at St James’ Park.
On the opposite flank, Son Heung-min should be given the nod by Pochettino, although the South Korean will fly to Indonesia to take part in the Asian Games after Saturday’s clash.
Meanwhile, Dele Alli is also expected to start the match on the Tottenham bench, having yet to return to full match fitness after helping England to a semi-final berth in Russia, whilst World Cup winner Hugo Lloris is also likely to watch on from the sidelines, with Michel Vorm to deputise for the Frenchman.
Besides the late returnees, Pochettino will be without midfielder Victor Wanyama – recovering from a knee injury – and Erik Lamela, who picked up a minor muscle pull recently, whilst Harry Winks remains unavailable.
Tottenham will be hoping to get their season off to a positive start in a tricky fixture, though there is no doubt that Newcastle, who have had a frustrating summer of their own, will be keen to show the unity that served them well last term and cause a shock on the opening day.