Tottenham have to rebound quickly after their midweek Champions League exit when they host Nottingham Forest on Saturday, but who will Antonio Conte turn to for the must-win match?
Nothing but a resounding victory will alleviate the heightened tension currently pervading the north London air.
Conte’s future at Spurs looks increasingly bleak, with the gaffer even mentioning the possibility of being sacked in his post-match comments after the abject 1-0 aggregate defeat to AC Milan.
While it’s improbable Conte will be in charge for the 2023-24 campaign, he is still, at least currently, tasked with steering Tottenham to a fourth-place finish.
Here’s who the Italian will likely turn to when 14th-place Nottingham Forest comes knocking.
Eric Dier will return to the starting 11 after serving a one-match Champions League ban. The Englishman’s absence wasn’t directly responsible for Spurs’ Europe exodus, but it will be nice to see him back in the team.
Despite his reckless and ill-timed challenge midweek that guaranteed an early shower, Cristian Romero will retain his spot in the back three. Clement Lenglet should join the others to complete the spine.
For better or for worse, Fraser Forster is guaranteed to start in goal. The veteran goalkeeper played his part in keeping Milan off the scoresheet and can’t be blamed for his team’s recent malaise.
Ben Davies should replace Ivan Perisic as the first-choice left wingback. Ryan Sessegnon is, as ever, cemented to the treatment table.
Emerson Royal was withdrawn in the 70th minute and didn’t train on Friday, presenting a perfect opportunity to get Pedro Porro into the first team.
He entered the scene with 37 minutes remaining on Wednesday and had a bit of jump, at least relative to his uninspiring teammates.
Oliver Skipp and Pierre Hojbjerg are the most likely pair to start in the centre of the park, especially with long-term injuries continually ruling out Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma.
And while it would be refreshing to see Pape Matar-Sarr get the nod, it’s unlikely he will in the current scenario.
Richarlison came off the bench with 20 minutes remaining in Wednesday’s 0-0 stalemate. He didn’t do too much to change the match’s complexion but should get the nod with Harry Kane and Dejan Kulusevski.
You have to wonder if Richarlison’s post-match comments will impact whether Conte starts the out-of-favour, out-of-form Brazilian.
Richarlison should get the chance to prove he belongs in Spurs’ starting 11, even after defiantly calling out his manager.
That’s more due to Son Heung-min’s recent woeful form than Richarlison deserving the opportunity.