With Toby Alderweireld Injured, Who Covers for Tottenham

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Tottenham September 27, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Andrew Boyers - Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Tottenham September 27, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Andrew Boyers - Pool/Getty Images) /

With Toby Alderweireld out injured Tottenham are going to be stretched defensively, so how will the team cope and who will get a chance to cover at Spurs?

Many pundits felt Tottenham Hotspur needed additional cover at center-half, so the team got some in the form of Joe Rodon. It is a good thing Spurs signed the Wales international because their need for defensive covered increased over the weekend with Toby Alderweireld going down to a groin injury. With Alderweireld expected to be out for a bit, who will get a chance and how will Tottenham cope with a tough schedule during Alderweireld’s absence?

Regardless of competition, Tottenham currently have five recognized first team center halves: Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, Joe Rodon, and Japhet Tanganga. While not technically a center-half by trade, Ben Davies has also played there this season for Spurs, giving the team six possible options, which are now down to five with Alderweireld out.

However, given Tottenham are playing in multiple competitions and those competitions have different rosters of players available things are not as straight forward as having five options without Toby. Things get more complicated in Europe where Spurs have Cameron Carter-Vickers – currently injured on loan at Bournemouth – in the squad instead of Joe Rodon.

Tottenham Defensive Cover in Europe

In Europe without Rodon or Alderweireld available, we must assume we are going to see some rotation. Eric Dier is clearly going to play every minute possible in the Premier League, so if he can sit in the Group Stage that would be ideal. Ben Davies becomes the logical choice to replace Dier in the line-up and Davinson Sanchez can earn some Premier League minutes with a strong showing in continental play.

The wildcard in Europe is Japhet Tanganga who can play at any of the four positions along the backline and is eligible for Europe through the B-list. If Tanganga is healthy he could conceivably pair with Sanchez allowing Davies to stay home at left back. Alternatively, Tanganga could pair with Davies if Sanchez has fallen that far down the Mourinho pecking order. Even if he does not start, we must assume Tanganga – if healthy – will have some role to play in Europe because Spurs really have few other choices.

Tottenham Domestic Defense

In the Premier League things seems a bit more straight forward for Spurs with Eric Dier maintaining his position on the left side of the two center backs and then Joe Rodon stepping in to play in Toby’s role on the right. This is a big deal for Rodon, who lacks experience at the highest level in club play but has quickly earned the trust of his coach getting multiple bench appearances.

The hope will be that Spurs do well enough in Europe that Dier does not have to play and can stay fresh for the weekends. Given Rodon cannot play, this would give Spurs a fresh back pair for each match, domestically and in Europe. Now that Toby is out and Rodon is in the staring XI, this also opens a space on the bench for a defender.

One might think that the new bench slot would automatically go to Davinson Sanchez given his experience, but this might actually be a better fit for Japhet Tanganga. Tanganga is a swiss army knife defender who can play on the left or right and both in the middle and out in space. This versatility makes him a great option off the bench, as he could fill in anywhere across the line.

Regardless what we know is that someone is going to get a chance both in Europe and at home. And while we hope that Toby Alderweireld is not out too long, the opportunity for someone else to step up is kind of exciting. Unless no one steps up and then we are back to where we started, needing more depth at center half, and hoping Toby is back soon.