TEAM NEWS: Destiny Udogie a doubt for Tottenham at Palace

No manifest Destiny, but there are options.

Coming out of Monday’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace, the two big questions for Tottenham Hotspur centered around the health of Pape Matar Sarr and Destiny Udogie. Both were early second half substitutes — Udogie came off at 52’ with what looked like a knock to his ankle, while Sarr walked slowly off the pitch at 62’.

The good news is that Sarr appears to be okay for Friday’s match against Crystal Palace. We don’t yet know about Destiny Udogie. Ange Postecoglou, speaking to the press today ahead of the match, said that Udogie will be assessed ahead of the match but there are still questions about if and at what level he’ll be able to participate tomorrow.

“The two main [concerns] from the other night are Pape and Destiny. Pape is fine, he bounced back sort of 24 hours after the game. He had a bit of an illness but has trained well. Destiny we are still going to assess. Obviously it is a short turnaround from the other night. We’ll have a look today, see how things go and make a decision after that. Everyone else has come through fine and is available.”

That’s not exactly encouraging! Destiny has been one of the stand-out players in the early part of the season for Tottenham, and as we saw late against Fulham it’s not a given that his replacement will offer similar value. On Monday night, Postecoglou opted to replace Udogie with Emerson Royal playing out of position on the left, and if Destiny can’t go that’s one possibility. But there are others — Ben Davies has ably deputized for Udogie in the past and we don’t know why Big Ange decided to use Emerson instead. Another option would be to use Emerson, but in his preferred position and moving Pedro Porro to the left. At any rate there are options, and we’ll just have to wait for Udogie’s prognosis and Postecoglou’s decision.

Elsewhere, it was a standard Big Ange press conference where reporters asked him questions designed to give article-ready soundbytes and Ange rejected the premise of the questions.

When asked about a potential title push:

“There is a real good reason no manager will talk about winning a title in October or November because we know there’s a long way to go. We don’t sort of talk in those terms with the players. My main information flow is about how can we keep improving, how can we tackle the challenge of being in the most competitive league in the world on a weekly basis. That’s the real challenge for us.

“Particularly at our stage of development is to understand that irrespective of what is happening outside and noise from outside, every game is a really hard one for us at the moment in where we are as a team. We need to be fully focused on that and from my perspective the lads have been really good at just keeping their eyes firmly on what’s next and what’s next for us is a tough game for us tomorrow night.”

When asked if he’d be disappointed finishing outside the Champions League spots:

“I will be disappointed if we’re not a better team than what we are now. That is my measure. If we continue to improve as a team, like I said at the start of the year, I reckon our supporters will give me a fair indication of how we’re going. If we get to the end of the year and they’re a happy lot, then I reckon we will be in a good space so we’ll see where that takes us.”

When asked about the Monday-Friday-Monday match schedule:

“All these kind of things are planned. We put our monthly plan together and we know what is coming so everything is adjusted accordingly leading up to games, whether that is training or the type of training we do. It is not like we get to Monday night and think about what we’ll do Friday. It is all planned well ahead.

“We’ve adjusted training accordingly but looking at the players they are ready to go. They are in a good space physically and mentally in terms of recovery from the other night, so there are no issues there.”

I swear, Ange might just be the most media-savvy Tottenham head coach we’ve had since I started following the club in 2007.

Tottenham kick off against Crystal Palace on Friday at 3:00 p.m. ET / 8:00 p.m. UK. The match will be televised on USA in the United States and Sky Sports in the UK. A win tomorrow puts them (temporarily) five points clear at the top of the Premier League table and ensures they stay there at least until next weekend.