Tottenham’s first meeting against Chelsea was far from what Ange Postecoglou, the fans, and the club as a whole wanted. After a promising first 15 minutes, a calamitous series of VAR reviews for offside goals and red cards led to Spurs finishing the night down two men and Chelsea victorious, 4-1. Spurs lost Mickey van de Ven to a hamstring injury and James Maddison to an ankle knock.
Spurs will now be without Cristian Romero for three games following his dismissal in the 33rd minute. Destiny Udogie will also be out, for one game, for his second yellow in the 55th minute. To make matters worse, Richarlison has announced he will be undergoing surgery on his pelvis.
Tottenham’s depth has always been the subject of scrutiny, but now the injuries are piling up.
Yet even in the midst of this injury crisis, there could be some hope. With the U-21 team off to a flying start, players like Alfie Dorrington and Yago Santiago have been showing they are getting closer to making the first team. With Spurs’ ranks growing thin, they may be needed just as much as players like Ashley Phillips and Alejo Veliz, who have already had a number of senior call-ups.
Dorrington will be especially crucial with the defense down to Eric Dier, Emerson Royal, Ashley Phillips and Ben Davies (if he is fit for Wolves on Saturday). He has started all eight PL2 matches, helping to keep a clean sheet in four of them, including a 5-0 thrashing of Man City’s U-21s. Though he lacks legitimate first-team experience, Postecoglou has praised the youth squad for their work in training. Now may be time to give Dorrington a run of games until the starters are back and healthy.
Santiago is another player who may earn a chance with the first team. The forward ranks are also quite thin with Richarlison headed for surgery. Ivan Perisic and Manor Solomon are still out with long-term knee ligament injuries, leaving just Bryan Gil (along with youth players Alejo Veliz and Jamie Donley) as an alternative attacking option. Santiago has been lighting up PL2. He has 6 goals and 4 assists in 8 matches this season, primarily playing as a left winger. However, he can also play on the right and even centrally. His versatility might be a deciding factor in Postecoglou’s team selection. Santiago wouldn’t take out Johnson or Kulusevski from the starting XI but would be a welcomed option off the bench.
Postecoglou will need more reinforcements in January, but for now, he must make do with what he has. Teams reach into the youth ranks during injury crises like these all the time, but it now must depend on whether they can carry out the manager’s tactics.