Tottenham’s in-form midfielder Mousa Dembele will be out for a “few weeks” with a groin injury, according to Mauricio Pochettino.
Dembele has been one of Pochettino’s star performers this season but he hobbled off before half-time during Spurs’ 2-1 win at Watford on Monday.
The Belgian was struggling with an ankle problem in the lead-up to the game at Vicarage Road but sustained a separate injury to his groin and will now sit out Sunday’s visit to Everton.
Tottenham remain hopeful Dembele will return within three weeks which means, as well as the trip to Goodison Park, he is likely to miss the Barclays Premier League and FA Cup double-header against Leicester and an away match at Sunderland on January 16.
Pochettino said: “He is out of the game against Everton because of a very small injury in his groin. But he may be a few weeks out.”
Carroll to get chance
Dembele’s absence could mean a third Premier League start for Tom Carroll, the club’s latest academy graduate to make his mark in the first team, while Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb are also fit again and could step in.
Tottenham’s options are far lighter up front, where the club continue to rely on the form and fitness of Harry Kane, who has scored 12 goals in his last 12 appearances.
Kane is the only out-and-out striker in Pochettino’s senior squad but the Spurs head coach insists his side would be able to cope without their star forward.
“The problem is we are always negative in our analysis,” Pochettino said. “Harry Kane is our striker but we have different players who can play in his position like a striker. I am very positive always, I am not negative.
“The most important thing is the balance of the team – the people and the changing room. Our power is in the changing room, in our squad, not one player.”
Pochettino added he was happy to let his players celebrate New Year’s Eve on Thursday night, with the game against Everton coming three days later, but advised them to adhere to Spanish traditions.
“I’ll allow it. They are very professional and we trust in them,” Pochettino said. “They can be like us, we are Spanish people and we have an advantage because we are an hour ahead.
“We will take the lucky grapes at 11pm (English time) and by five past 11 we are in bed. So we can give that advice to the players.”