Jose Mourinho says Tottenham’s schedule has left them unable to compete against Chelsea in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup tie and warned that Heung-min Son’s injury would be the first of many for his overworked players.
Spurs face the Blues in the fourth-round just 48 hours either side of Sunday’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Newcastle and the one-off Europa League play-off against Israeli side Maccabi Haifa on Thursday.
Mourinho plans to heavily rotate his squad for the visit of his former club and will definitely be without Son, who is set for a scan today after being replaced at half-time against Newcastle with a hamstring problem.
The Magpies added insult to injury when Callum Wilson scored a stoppage-time equaliser from the penalty spot, cancelling out Lucas Moura’s goal, after referee Peter Bankes adjudged Eric Dier to have handled following consultation with the VAR.
Spurs stand to make around £15million from the Europa League group stage, which could be crucial to Mourinho’s hopes of improving his squad before the transfer deadline, and the Portuguese says he has little choice but the prioritise Thursday over tomorrow’s London derby.
“I would like to fight for the Carabao Cup but I don’t think I can,” Mourinho told Standard Sport. “We have a game on Thursday that gives us not as much money as the Champions League but the group phase of the Europa League gives us a certain amount that for a club like us is very important.
“Apart from Sonny, everybody is in contention but I think you can imagine that with a game on Thursday that decides a very important thing for us, I think the EFL made a decision for us. They didn’t even [simply] create a problem – they made a decision for us. So that’s the decision.
“We are going to [rotate the squad]. We know the consequences of it because not every player is the same. And not every player has the same group dynamic because we have clearly a spine and obviously you lose potential.
“And I think Sonny was just the first. More will come. Son was the first, but more will come.”
When it was suggested that Spurs should still have a chance of progressing against a Chelsea side who shipped three goals to West Brom on Saturday, Mourinho replied: “Are you joking or serious?”
The Spurs manager then pointed out that Chelsea’s schedule is Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday, while Tottenham’s are having to contend with Thursday-Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday.
“With their fantastic squad, if their manager decides not to rotate he can perfectly play with the players that he wants [in all three games],” Mourinho added.