Andre Villas-Boas has lost Moussa Dembele for Tottenham’s north London derby with Arsenal in their Premier League clash on Saturday.
The Belgian midfielder is currently suffering a recurrence of a hip injury sustained while at Fulham, and the Portuguese manager confirmed his absence for the match between the rivals.
Asked if Dembele would be ready, Villas-Boas replied: “No, not for this game.”
However, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe may be back in time to face the Gunners, although Villas-Boas admitted Spurs are playing a waiting game regarding the forward duo.
“Lennon had a scan (on Wednesday), and it’s fine on his hamstring. We have to wait and see because I think today is an important day. They had quite a bit of time to rest, to recover, and we have to wait and see if we are able to give them a session for today,” he said.
“(Defoe and Lennon) haven’t trained with the team yet, they trained separately yesterday, and on the recovery, on a lighter session basically, on their own, individually.
“We’ll have to see today how they return, see if there’s any disturbance.”
Despite the bad blood between the sides, the Spurs boss believes his team should look to Arsenal’s example of building a championship-winning team for inspiration to push on and win top honours.
“I think Arsenal have at the moment accumulated a recent amount of trophies, which is important, including the Premiership champions,” he said.
“This is a step up – this is where we want to be in the future. I think recently they have obtained more Champions League qualifications, so our objectives for the season too have been within their reach for the last couple of years.
“I think we are certainly getting nearer in terms of what we are doing for the club, but I think the past shows at the moment they are more regular on obtaining those type of objectives.”
And the 35-year-old boss has been left in no doubt as to the importance of the upcoming game to both the club and their fans.
“I’ve been getting it for the last two weeks to be fair,” the 35-year-old said.
“People have been speaking about it quite often in between us – the staff and the chairman – so you understand the importance of it.
“The voice out from the fans means this is a game where the passion is extremely high and it’s a game that represents three points, but it really represents more in the history of north London derbies.”
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