Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho said his struggling and fatigued Spurs are feeling the absence of Harry Kane and their key attackers after he suffered a career first on Thursday.

Spurs crashed to a 1-0 defeat to London rivals Chelsea in Premier League action at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Jorginho's first-half penalty settled the contest.

It was another toothless display from Tottenham, who were without Kane, Giovani Lo Celso and Sergio Reguilon, while Dele Alli remains out of favour following a failed attempt to join Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain on loan prior to the transfer window closing.

Mourinho – in his 327th home league match – suffered back-to-back league defeats on home soil for the first time in his career, while Spurs were condemned to three successive Premier League losses for the first time since November 2012.

As Spurs languish in eighth position and seven points adrift of the top four, Mourinho bemoaned his absentees and a hectic fixture list.

"Well, [Sergio] Reguilon means something for our attacking football," Mourinho told reporters. "Harry Kane means something for our attacking football. Giovani Lo Celso again means something for our attacking football.

"A good Dele Alli that we don’t have yet but hope that we can have in the future means something for us. It's not just what they mean, they mean that we don't have many options to rotate players and we finish with people with some signs of fatigue because of the accumulation of matches because we don't have so many players to rest. 

"The second thing is confidence. The confidence levels are very, very important to play football. When a team doesn't have good results, a period when results are not good, you need that click back to go back to normality. So, for me it's a little bit like that."

On rebuilding confidence after losses to Liverpool (3-1), Brighton and Hove Albion (1-0) and Chelsea, Mourinho added: "Look, I think we did that after Brighton because for me the Brighton defeat is a defeat like this one, 1-0, the same way.

"We managed in the group to change some things and I believe the reflection of the second half means something for me and I believe for the group. I don't like to speak about Harry Kane and company but they mean something also for the confidence of the players. The reality is that since Liverpool half-time, that is very difficult for us to connect certain dynamics. We tried without [Carlos] Vinicius against Brighton.

"We tried today with Vinicius and two up. We tried in the second half with him as a target man and two wingers and a No.10. We're trying to go on the search but I saw togetherness.  

"It's not easy to see togetherness with bad results, defeats, difficulties, injuries. Togetherness is very easy to show when you're on a high and winning matches, when everything is amazing. But in difficult moments it's more difficult to see that togetherness but I saw that in the second half. No doubts for me."

Despite Tottenham's desperate and unsuccessful search for an equaliser against Chelsea, star loanee Gareth Bale was snubbed again by Mourinho.

Bale was left among the substitutes – the Wales international has only featured in 230 minutes of Premier League action this season, with just two of his six appearances coming as starts under Mourinho.

Asked about Bale – on a season-long loan from Madrid, Mourinho replied: "I'm doing my best; he's doing his best. Everybody is doing their best."

Gareth Bale has reached "a crucial moment" in his second spell at Tottenham and must help the team soften the blow of losing Harry Kane, according to Jose Mourinho.

The on-loan Real Madrid forward has struggled to make a major impression this season with Spurs, starting only one Premier League game.

Taking into account four appearances as substitute, Bale has played a mere 170 minutes in the English top flight this season, scoring once and creating four chances.

Barring a turnaround in fortunes in the second half of the season, his switch looks set to go down as a disappointing gamble by the club.

Bale scored 42 goals and had 20 assists in 146 Premier League games across his first spell at the club, productivity which heralded a big-money move to Spain.

With Kane facing a lay-off after injuring his ankle in Thursday's 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, head coach Mourinho wants other players to "step up", starting from Sunday's game at Brighton and Hove Albion.

And asked whether Bale can do that, Mourinho said: "Yes, I hope so. He didn't play much [against Liverpool], he played 15 minutes with the team losing 3-1.

"But he played 90 minutes in the [FA] cup and that for him is a big impact for him, to play 90 minutes.

"It's a crucial moment for him, he's feeling better and better. When you lose a player of Harry's quality and dimension, the other guys have to step up and hopefully he can help us."

Bale's appearance in Monday's 4-1 cup win over Wycombe, a match in which he scored, was a signal that his fitness is returning, but Mourinho knows it will take a big effort from several players to fill the void created by Kane's setback, given the England captain is such a linchpin of the side.

"Harry Kane is Harry Kane, there are players in some teams that are not replaceable," Mourinho said.

Spurs were without a host of forwards for a time last season, with Kane and Son Heung-min particularly missed, and Mourinho was forced to field several makeshift line-ups.

Mourinho pointed to having Carlos Vinicius, Steven Bergwijn, Lucas Moura and Bale all available this time.

However, he stressed Bale could not be a like-for-like replacement for star man Kane, who has 12 Premier League goals and 11 assists this season.

Removing penalties, Kane has nine goals from an xG (expected goals) rating of 7.2, meaning he is exceeding what he might be expected to achieve based on his chances.

"I don't think Gareth is a striker and I don't think he likes to play as a striker," said Mourinho.

"It was something we spoke about when he joined us and he was very objective with me by saying that he doesn't feel he is a left winger, like he was before, or a number 10, like he was before too.

"The position he likes to play is the position where we are playing him every minute we are giving him, which is on the right side of attack.

"When Gareth plays, starting or coming from the bench, that's his position in our team."

Mourinho said Dele Alli, linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, is injured and would not be available for the Brighton trip.

Gareth Bale can make a difference in key moments as Jose Mourinho is the right coach to get the best out of him, according to former Tottenham midfielder Gus Poyet.  

Spurs moved to bring Bale back to north London on loan from Real Madrid for the 2020-21 campaign back in September.  

The move was welcomed by supporters, who had hopes Bale could replicate the form that made him a fan favourite and twice led to the Wales international being named PFA Players' Player of the Year.  

However, issues with injury and form have seen Bale start just once in the Premier League so far, while he has managed just one top-flight goal.  

Across all competitions, Bale has 13 appearances, four goals, no assists, has created nine chances (two of which are defined by Opta as 'big chances'), while having 10 shots on target.  

Prior to the FA Cup tie against Wycombe Wanderers on Monday, Mourinho said Bale had to earn his minutes after it was suggested he could benefit from more playing time.  

Bale responded with a goal and an impressive showing in a 4-1 victory in that tie and Poyet – who played for Spurs between 2001 and 2004 – feels Mourinho is the ideal man to help the 31-year-old prosper.

"I think you as a coach - and especially with the experience of Jose - you really believe in your way of managing," Poyet told Stats Perform News.  

"And let's say it wasn't as easy as probably Jose thought. Because he was up and down.   

"Now, I think he is still playing a part, even if it's in moments, he is still a player that at any time, any game, he can give you the difference between winning or not winning a game.   

"I think we can see something, especially if he keeps himself fit. That's the key to the situation. So, you know, it's not only training well, it's about being fit enough to perform well.   

"And there is a limit to Gareth at the moment, physically, that if he goes above that level, he can get injured. To control those levels is very, very difficult. But if there is someone who can do it, definitely it's Mourinho."

Gareth Bale impressed in a scoring display during Tottenham's 4-1 FA Cup win at Wycombe Wanderers, with Jose Mourinho insisting he has no worries over the Wales star's fitness.

Bale returned to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid in September but an initial knee problem delayed his second debut and he has largely existed on the periphery of Mourinho's plans in the Premier League.

He was once again called into cup action at Adams Park and produced an all-action performance, equalising after Fred Onyedinma put the Championship's bottom club ahead against the run of play.

Mourinho still had to call for the cavalry from the bench as Wycombe withstood a second-half onslaught.

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min both went close, but fellow substitute Tanguy Ndombele finished superbly for a late brace after Harry Winks' cool chip gave Spurs an 86th-minute lead.

Faltering Premier League champions Liverpool are next on the agenda for Tottenham and Mourinho suggested Bale had done his prospects of adding to a solitary top-flight start this term no harm at all.

"He looked good, taking on players, scored the goal," he told a post-match news conference.

"I never felt that he could not play 90 minutes, I never felt I had to take him off.

"The Championship is a good level. That is good. I am happy."

If Bale is concerned over whether he can make himself a fixture in Mourinho's first XI, he should look no further than Ndombele.

The former Lyon midfielder was not always trusted when the ex-Chelsea boss replaced Mauricio Pochettino last term, but he is now a player on top form and oozing confidence, as his late salvo emphatically showed.

"He is very creative. He's one of these players who can break the balance [of a game]," Mourinho told BT Sport.

"They tried to get him man-against-man. Number 18 [Curtis Thompson] was man-against-man with him.

"But he is always the kind of player who can break that. If, on the top of that, he can score a goal for us, even better."

Tottenham were forced to come from behind before securing a 4-1 FA Cup win over Wycombe Wanderers.

The Championship's bottom club stunned their Premier League opponents when Fred Onyedinma capitalised on fine work by Uche Ikpeazu.

Gareth Bale went close either side of the opener and was on hand to level in first-half stoppage time.

Spurs dominated after the break, although Jose Mourinho felt the need to introduce Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Tanguy Ndombele - the latter sealing a place in round five with a late brace after Harry Winks' classy 20-yard chip gave the visitors the lead for the first time in the 86th-minute.

 

Gareth Bale must earn every minute on the pitch at Tottenham with Jose Mourinho insisting he does not give them out easily. 

On loan from Real Madrid and facing an uncertain future, Bale is yet to hit the heights since delighting Spurs fans with his return to the club in September. 

Issues with the winger's form and fitness have meant he has only started one Premier League match, while he is yet to complete 90 minutes in any competition. 

Ahead of Monday's FA Cup fourth-round tie at Wycombe Wanderers, Mourinho was asked if it would be beneficial to give Bale regular outings of between 30 and 60 minutes to build up his fitness and confidence. 

Mourinho, however, suggested performances in training held the key to his decision. 

The former Madrid head coach hopes Bale will come through this week unscathed in order to boost his chances of a long run-out against Championship outfit Wycombe. 

"I cannot give players minutes," Mourinho said about Bale. "Minutes on the pitch are not something I can give. I wouldn't go in this direction.  

"We all know the difficulties he had for a couple of seasons. We all know that he arrived injured. We all know that even this season he has been a little bit up and down with small things.  

"The most important thing is to be consistent and training without any problems. 

"When a player is consistently training high intensity without any kind of problems then the player is ready not to be given minutes but is ready to earn minutes. That to me is a different thing." 

Mourinho added: "This week, he is working every minute like everybody else at a good intensity.  

"Let's see the way he reacts to that accumulation, to that load of work. Let's see how he reacts by the end of the week.  

"If he feels - because it is also about his own feelings - that the week that he had has had a positive impact on him and his confidence, he will play the match on Monday." 

Amid reports Tottenham would not be extending Bale's loan spell for a second season, Mourinho insisted last week that no decision had yet been made.

Tottenham will have an easy decision to send Gareth Bale back to Real Madrid at the end of the season unless the forward improves, according to Dimitar Berbatov.

Bale returned to Spurs on a season-long loan deal in September amid huge fanfare, but he has failed to live up to the hype thus far.

The 31-year-old has only made one Premier League start and is yet to play a full 90 minutes in any competition amid issues with injuries, fitness and form.

After reports suggested Spurs had already decided not to extend his loan for a second season, manager Jose Mourinho insisted last week there has not been "one second of discussion" over the issue.

But former Spurs star Berbatov believes the outcome is clear unless the Wales international embarks on a rapid turnaround in the second half of the season. 

Berbatov told Stats Perform News: "I was expecting a lot of him coming to Spurs, to shake things up and for him, Son and Kane to make it a trio up front that can rival the Liverpool attacking trio, for example.

"For the moment it is 100 per cent not working.

"There are still games until the end of the season, enough for him to show what he can do, in the [EFL Cup] final they play as well.

"So hopefully he can get back to 100 per cent and start playing. If not, in the end it is an easy decision – he can go back to Madrid."

Bale was an unused substitute in the 3-1 win at Sheffield United on Sunday.

Berbatov added: "In a way, it is disappointing that he is not being given more time to play. 

"But if you are not given more time to play, there are two reasons for that. Either are you injured and not in good shape to play or you are not performing well in training.

"Whatever the reason [for his lack of games] Gareth Bale is injury free now is because he's on the bench for the team.

"But he's not playing from the from the first minute so it means that obviously he's not producing the right level of football Jose Mourinho wants from him, which is a shame because I like him a lot."

With the EFL Cup final against Manchester City coming up in April, Berbatov feels Bale – along with Mourinho and captain Hugo Lloris – can play a huge role. 

Spurs were unable to win a trophy despite five and a half otherwise productive years under Mauricio Pochettino.

Berbatov – who won the League Cup with Spurs in 2008 – underlined the importance of lifting silverware.

"Jose Mourinho has led them to the final but let's not celebrate now because you need to make one more step," said Berbatov.

"I remember the game before we qualified for the final. We played against Arsenal and we beat them 5-1, everybody was celebrating like we won the final. And I'm like, 'People we are not there yet'. 

"We need to wait, we have one more step to make and then we can celebrate."

Berbatov continued: "The person who brought them there is Jose Mourinho. I think this is the reason they brought him into the club – to win trophies.

"It doesn't matter how [they get there] – the Premier League title, the cup, something – they need one so they can get that winning mentality going. 

"Although they have a world champion in their team, the goalkeeper, he should know how things are won – especially [having lifted] the World Cup. 

"So him, Jose Mourinho, Gareth Bale – who is coming from winning mentality – will run with it. Those three are very important, they can teach them in a way how to win things and then get that winning feeling.

"And after get that feeling, trust me, you don't want to let it go."

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho says there has not been "one second of discussion" over the decision on whether to extend Gareth Bale's stay.

Bale re-joined Spurs to much fanfare on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid in September.

But his return has not yet met expectations, with Bale only making one Premier League start and yet to play a full 90 minutes in any competition amid issues with injuries, fitness and form.

Spurs are said to have an option to sign Bale for a second year on loan, but reports have suggested the Wales forward, who has scored only three times since his return to north London, is instead poised to head back to Madrid at the end of the season.

Asked if the decision not to extend his loan was made, Mourinho said: "There was not even a second of discussion about that.

"Gareth is a player on loan until the end of the season.

"Not one second of discussion. We are speaking about, of course, Gareth, himself, Real Madrid, Tottenham, but I promise you, not one second of discussion.

"Of course, you know that he arrived injured. And he was injured before, I believe, the first month. And then, step by step, Europa League matches were helping him to get his condition.

"Europa League group phase is a different level than the Premier League. The knockout round is a different story. But the group phase is a different intensity, a different rhythm, a different quality.

"So, in the Premier League, he didn't play many minutes. Then another small injury at Stoke City [in the EFL Cup] where he was having a good first half. It is not an easy process.

"Everybody knew that in the past couple of seasons, in Madrid, they were not easy for him. So, let's go, step by step, and try to get the best out of him."

Spurs were held to a 1-1 draw by Fulham on Wednesday, though they are on a six-game unbeaten run across all competitions.

They face Sheffield United, who have only just recorded their first win of the Premier League season, at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Mourinho added: "Gio [Lo Celso] of course is not [available] and we still have two training sessions before the game. But I believe no more problems in principle.

"They [Sheffield United] are not the worst team in the Premier League at all. They're a much, much, much better team than what the table says.

"You analyse their matches and many times the opponent was not better than them. I don't look to the table. Of course, I look but I go deeper than that.

"Many times, it was one of the small big details that decides the points, decides the score, decides the table.

"Many times, they lose 1-0, they draw 1-1, they are a very good team. If in our mind we are going to play the worst team in the Premier League, we are going to be in big trouble."

Manchester City reportedly believe they lead the race for Lionel Messi if the star leaves Barcelona.

Messi, 33, is out of contract at Barca at the end of the season and is linked with a move from the LaLiga giants.

The forward stayed at Camp Nou after sensationally requesting a transfer ahead of 2020-21, but it may have just delayed his exit.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY LEAD MESSI RACE IF STAR LEAVES

Manchester City believe they lead the race for Messi if he leaves Barcelona, according to The Telegraph.

City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter have been most strongly linked with a move for Messi, who is expected to make a decision on his future at the end of the campaign.

Messi has scored 12 goals in 20 games in all competitions this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Gareth Bale injured, his chances of a longer stay at Tottenham appear slim. AS reports Real Madrid are expecting the attacker to return to the club at the end of his loan spell at the conclusion of the campaign, and that would hurt their chances of signing Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe with Bale contracted until 2022.

- Georginio Wijnaldum's future is no closer to being sorted. Sky Sports reports the midfielder and Liverpool have reached a stalemate over a new contract. Wijnaldum's deal expires at the end of the season and the Netherlands international has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

- Starring at Tottenham this season, Son Heung-min could be set for a new deal. The Telegraph reports Spurs are confident the forward, who is contracted until 2023, will re-sign.

- Mesut Ozil could finally be set to leave Arsenal. DHA reports the playmaker has agreed to a three-and-a-half-year deal with Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

- With Moise Kean impressing on loan at Paris Saint-Germain, Everton are expecting an offer for the forward, according to the Liverpool Echo. Kean has 10 goals in 17 matches for PSG this season.

- Diego Alonso is under pressure at the helm of Inter Miami, and Sky Sports reports the MLS side have approached Phil Neville, who is the coach of England's women's team, to take over.

Gareth Bale's unwanted piece of Premier League history has been taken by Oliver Burke after Sheffield United lost again at Burnley.

Tottenham winger Bale, a four-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, previously held the record for the longest wait for a first Premier League win.

After his initial move to Spurs from Southampton in 2007, the Wales superstar went 24 matches without ending on the winning side.

Not until September 2009 did Bale play a part in a top-flight triumph, making a late cameo at left-back in a 5-0 defeat of Burnley.

The Clarets were the opposition again on Tuesday as Sheffield United's Burke attempted to avoid topping Bale's miserable mark.

But a 1-0 reverse courtesy of Ben Mee's header meant Burke, a 63rd-minute substitute, took the record outright.

Burke's first 15 winless Premier League matches came in West Brom's 2017-18 relegation campaign and United are facing the same fate this term.

Chris Wilder's side are rooted to the bottom of the table with just two points after 16 matches.

As well as Burke's personal woe, the failure to beat Burnley saw the Blades equal Queens Park Rangers' 2012-13 record winless run from the start of a season. QPR were relegated.

Tottenham forward Gareth Bale is facing yet another spell on the sidelines after injuring his calf in last week's EFL Cup quarter-final win over Stoke City.

The Wales international did not return for the second half and subsequently missed the 1-1 draw with Wolves on Sunday.

Jose Mourinho expects to be without the Real Madrid loanee for "a few weeks", potentially seeing him miss up to six matches at an important time of the season.

It is the latest in a long line of injury setbacks for Bale, who was hoping to revive his career at Tottenham after joining on a season's loan from Madrid in September.

But how much of a miss will the 31-year-old actually be for Mourinho in his quest to win some rare silverware for Spurs?

YET TO COMPLETE 90 MINS

Bale has played in 11 of Tottenham's 24 matches in all competitions since joining 14 weeks ago - four of those appearances coming in the Premier League - having arrived unfit.

He has started eight times in total and has yet to complete the full 90 minutes of a single match he has featured in during that time.

The Welshman has been on the field for a combined 599 minutes this term - less than seven whole matches - with 161 of those minutes coming in the English top flight.

Of the 22 players to have featured for Spurs in the league this term, only Joe Rodon (101), Dele Alli (74) and Carlos Vinicius (12) have played fewer combined minutes.

NO LONGER PROLIFIC

Bale has found the net three times in his second spell with Tottenham, the first of those coming in the 2-1 league win over Brighton and Hove Albion on November 1.

That goal, 200 seconds after he had entered the field, came seven years and 166 days after his previous strike for the club against another of his former sides in Southampton.

He also netted in a 3-3 draw with LASK in the Europa League earlier this month and in last week's 3-1 EFL Cup win over Stoke prior to sustaining his latest injury.

That gives him a return of one goal every 199.7 minutes in 2020-21, or one every 161 minutes in the Premier League.

Bale is one of seven players to have scored for Spurs in the league this term, with the likes of Vinicius, Alli, Erik Lamela (194 minutes) and Steven Bergwijn (592) yet to do so.

SIGNS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

The Southampton academy product has created seven chances for team-mates but has yet to register a single assist this campaign.

However, the two big chances Bale has created in the league - defined by Opta as a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score - ranks favourably.

Son Heung-min (12 big chances) and Harry Kane (10) are the only Tottenham players to have created more, despite Bale's lack of minutes.

Bale also ranks favourably in the dribbles metric, his 57.14 per cent success rate in the league bettered only by Moussa Sissoko (60 per cent), Tanguy Ndombele (68.75) and Lamela (85.71) among those to have attempted more than one dribble.

The versatile attacker has certainly shown signs that he can still offer a lot to Spurs in comparison to their other wide players, then, but keeping him fit is proving to be a big challenge for Mourinho.

Gareth Bale's stop-start return to Tottenham has stalled again after the on-loan Real Madrid winger was ruled out for a "few weeks".

Bale sustained a calf problem during the EFL Cup quarter-final win at Stoke City on December 23, failing to emerge for the second half, and played no part in the 1-1 draw at Wolves four days later.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho has now confirmed the Wales international, who has made just one Premier League start following his much-heralded return to north London, is set for a frustrating spell on the sidelines.

"I wouldn't say [Bale's injury] is serious but I'd say a few weeks," said Mourinho, whose team host Fulham on Wednesday.

Giovani Lo Celso, Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius will also miss the clash with Scott Parker's strugglers, meaning Tanguy Ndombele is set to continue his resurgence in the Spurs midfield.

The France international scored a first-minute opener at Molineux and impressed with the kind of all-round performance that appears to have won Mourinho over.

Ndombele has yet to complete a full 90 minutes in his 11 Premier League starts, however, and the Portuguese is looking for improvement in that area.

Mourinho added: "We are happy [with him]. Apart from a couple of matches where his performances were not good, overall there was a big evolution.

"I believe to play at Premier League intensity, and to last for 90 minutes, is of course another step in the direction of his fitness.

"But he's a player who is playing very well and is giving some good things to the team.

"There are players that naturally have different qualities than others. Some players are very physical, some are very intense. Others are more explosive but they don't last for 90 minutes. Or they have difficulties lasting 90 minutes.

"In his case, he's adapting to a league that is not new, new, new for him but let's not forget last season where he didn't play much and he had lots of injuries.

"And this season I believe to play at this intensity and to give the team what it needs with and without the ball, it's not easy for him to last 90 minutes."

Spurs have slipped to seventh in the Premier League table after failing to win any of their last four games.

Jose Mourinho was again critical of Dele Alli and confirmed Gareth Bale suffered another injury setback in Tottenham's 3-1 EFL Cup quarter-final win at Stoke City.

Bale cleverly headed home a third goal of his second spell with Spurs to put them in front in a one-sided first half at the bet365 Stadium on Wednesday.

The Wales captain was then replaced by Son Heung-min at half-time, with Mourinho revealing he had asked to be withdrawn due to a calf problem.

Jordan Thompson equalised with the Championship side's first shot eight minutes into the second half, but a rasping long-range drive from Ben Davies and Harry Kane's 16th goal of the season put Spurs into the last four.

Alli, who has fallen out of favour under Mourinho, twice went close to scoring in the first half and was not impressed when Mourinho took him off after 66 minutes.

Two of Alli's three shots were well saved by a busy Andy Lonergan and he also contested a game-high 19 duels, as well as drawing more fouls (five) than any other player.

Yet Mourinho made it clear he was not happy with a flick from the attacking midfielder that did not come off before Thompson levelled from out of the blue.

"Yes, for me a player that plays in that position is a player that has to link and create and not to create problems for his own team," Mourinho said of Alli, who started in an advanced role behind Kane.

"In that situation, an objective counter-attack would probably end with a goal, and it ended with a counter-attack behind our defenders.

"We were unbalanced because when you are in possession you have full-backs out wide and another midfielder in a different line and they caught us in a counter-attack and they transformed the result of the game that was totally in our hands, so yes I am upset."

Eyebrows were raised when Bale did not return for the second half, but Mourinho said he made the change at the request of the on-loan forward.

"Yeah, it was his decision," said the Tottenham boss. "Something he felt in the last part of the first half and he didn't want to come out for the second half.

"While he was walking to the dressing room he told me immediately that he couldn't come out for the second half.

"Something I think with his calf. I'm not sure as at that time I just want to reorganise the team and make the change."

A thunderous strike from Ben Davies and Harry Kane's 16th goal of the season sealed Tottenham's place in the EFL Cup semi-final as Stoke City were consigned to a 3-1 home defeat.

Spurs dominated the first half and Gareth Bale put them ahead with a glancing header on a miserable Wednesday evening.

Bale was withdrawn at the break, leading to concerns he may have sustained another injury, and Jordan Thompson equalised with Stoke's first shot of the tie eight minutes into the second half.

Spurs were not to be denied a place in the last four, though, as Davies thumped in from distance before Kane sealed a first win in four games as Tottenham moved to within two games of winning their first trophy since 2008.

 

Gareth Bale's second Tottenham spell is still struggling to take off and it seems unlikely he will kick-start his return against defending Premier League champions Liverpool on Wednesday.

Bale rejoined Spurs on loan from Real Madrid in pre-season, having gradually fallen out of favour over the past few years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

His initial move to Los Blancos from Spurs seven years earlier made Bale the world's first €100m footballer, but he is yet to show much of the ability he showcased in his previous stint in London.

Injuries and fitness problems have limited Bale to just three Premier League appearances this term, though his record of 3.9 shots and 2.3 chances created per 90 minutes is the best in the Spurs squad among players to have featured more than once.

Nevertheless, it looks doubtful he will get the opportunity to give his season the jolt it requires when leaders Spurs go to second-place Liverpool on Wednesday, with Mourinho's men hoping to open up a three-point lead over Jurgen Klopp's side.

Bale has been suffering with flu-like symptoms recently and was unable to train on Monday.

"We still have a training session," Mourinho told reporters. "Yesterday he didn't train with the team, he trained inside. At the moment I'd say no, but let's wait for feelings and the training session later."

Wednesday's clash will see Spurs face a Liverpool team that has had more than its fair share of injuries this term, though Mourinho has dismissed the idea the Reds head into the top-of-the-table contest at a disadvantage.

"Allison's not injured, Trent Alexander-Arnold is not injured, [Joel] Matip I believe is going to play, Andrew Robertson is not injured, Fabinho is not injured, [Jordan] Henderson is not injured, [Georginio] Wijnaldum is not injured, Sadio Mane isn't injured, Mohamed Salah isn't, [Roberto] Firmino isn't," Mourinho said.

"Virgil van Dijk is injured and is a very good player, of course, but give me a list of Liverpool injuries and a list of Liverpool's best team, and then I can give you a list of 10 injuries at Tottenham.

"We have two kids in the Under-16s who are injured, two in the Under-21s and then three in the Under-23s, we have [Erik] Lamela and [Japhet] Tanganga and then you have a list of 10 players.

"But is [Hugo] Lloris injured? No. Is Dier injured? No. [Toby] Alderweireld? No. Is [Sergio] Reguilon injured? No. Harry Kane? No. Son [Heung-min]? No. Lucas, no.

"So where are the injuries? There are injuries, it's normal – [James] Milner is injured, Lamela is injured. Every club has injuries now and again, they have a big injury and it's Van Dijk."

The omens are not great for Spurs, who have won just one of their previous 15 league games against the Reds, while Mourinho is yet to beat Klopp away from home in five meetings across all competitions.

However, Liverpool have already dropped 11 points in the league this term – they only let 15 points slip from their grasp in the entirety of 2019-20.

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