Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe has been ruled out of the club’s next three games with a muscle injury, according to Andre Villas-Boas.
The problem means the forward will miss his side’s Europa League quarter-final first leg with Basel on Thursday and the key league clash with sixth-placed Everton on Sunday.
Defoe could be fit for the visit of Manchester City to White Hart Lane on April 20, but until then the club must rely on their only remaining recognised striker, Emmanuel Adebayor.
“Jermain has a muscle injury which is probably going to take him out of the next two games definitely and maybe Basel away,” Villas-Boas said.
“If he can’t make Basel away he should be fit for Man City.
“It’s a big blow. It’s on the same muscle that he had a small tear last month. It’s on the other side now and it’s a big miss as he represents a lot for us and he will be a big miss.”
Villas-Boas said while his team has more star quality than Basel, he remains wary of the well-drilled Swiss outfit.
“When it comes to the quality of the individuals, we have to admit that we have the superior players,” he said.
“But on the other hand the experience that Basel have – the fact that they have played Champions League, the fact that they are regular trophy winners, their recent European experience – also makes them one of the favourites.
“They put out Zenit, which was a very strong team, and we expect a tough game.”
And while a top-four finish – and Champions League qualification – remains Spurs’ priority, Villas-Boas did not discount the importance of competing for the Europa League.
“I think your league position always dictates the success of your season, but in the end winning a trophy is tremendously important,” he said.
“Chelsea finished sixth last year but it was completely overshadowed by the fact that they won two major competition, and the most important competition in the world, so it was deemed a successful season in the end.
“We want to focus on trying to win the Europa League but we understand that the fans’ and the club’s expectation for us is to try to reach Champions League qualification this year.”