Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

Tottenham star convinced he can fill Maddison void after clever Postecoglou tactical switch

Richarlison, Dejan Kulusevski Tottenham v Sheff Utd

Richarlison, Dejan Kulusevski celebrate against Sheff Utd

Tottenham may have suffered a third successive Premier League defeat on Sunday at the hands of Aston Villa but they might have answered their James Maddison conundrum in the process.

Maddison is not expected to be back in action until January after suffering a serious ankle injury against Chelsea and was badly missed in the defeat at Wolves before the international break.

However, the England man’s absence was not as badly felt in the 2-1 home loss to Villa as Spurs created chance after chance but failed to add to Gio Lo Celso’s thunderous strike and were ultimately made to pay for their profligacy.

Part of the reason why they excelled going forward, mainly in the first half, was Dejan Kulusevski starting in Maddison’s normal No.10 position.

The £25million winger normally plays on the right of the front three, but that role was filled by Brennan Johnson with Bryan Gil on the left as Tottenham looked more fluid going forward before the Swede reverted to his normal position in the second period.

And Kulusevski feels he is more than capable of standing in for Maddison until the club’s outstanding summer signing returns in the new year.

Speaking about his own performance on Sunday, the Swede told Football.London: “I felt so good today, I felt like the real Dejan. I felt like myself today and the coach decided where to put me. I enjoyed and I had real fun playing today. It was a great day for me.”

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Kulu ready for fresh tactical challenge

Asked if he was comfortable playing more centrally, Kulusevski added: “Absolutely. I’ve done it all my life so it’s nothing new to me. Of course in the second half I played right wing but I felt good. Physically I feel really good so I’m happy and I know I’m on the right path to make better and continue to play like this.”

Kulusevski could find himself starting behind the front three again for Sunday’s daunting trip to Manchester City, which is not where you want to be going after three successive losses.

Postecoglou will at least have Yves Bissouma back from suspension for that game, while Pape Matar-Sarr could also return after missing the Villa clash with a knock.

The Tottenham boss will also have to decide whether to keep Emerson Royal at centre-back or turn back to Eric Dier, given the aerial threat of Erling Haaland.

The game at The Etihad will see Cristian Romero serve the last of his three-match ban and at least give Postecoglou some good news going forward.

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