Tottenham’s whistle stop tour around eastern Europe continues on Thursday night when they take on KF Shkëndija from the Macedonian First Football League.
Fresh from an unconvincing 2-1 win over nine men Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the previous round, Spurs head to North Macedonia knowing they cannot afford to take anything for granted.
At least their obscenely congested fixture list was relieved after Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup meeting with Leyton Orient was cancelled due to a coronavirus outbreak. This means the squad has not played since thrashing Southampton 5-2 last Sunday.
However, with a tough Premier League fixture against Newcastle to come on Sunday, José Mourinho could ring the changes against the mighty Shkëndija. Here’s
90min predicted XI for the game.
1. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Hugo Lloris (GK) – Despite possessing two okay backup goalkeepers in Paulo Gazzaniga and (to a lesser extent) Joe Hart, Mourinho seems keen on selecting Lloris for all of Tottenham’s 101 games this season. Expect the Frenchman to start his fourth straight match of the campaign on Thursday.
Serge Aurier (RB) – Aurier is yet to feature this season and we expect this to change against Shkëndija. New arrival Matt Doherty has not exactly set the world alight in his first three games, and a good rest could be exactly what’s required to rejuvenate the Irishman before the Newcastle game.
Toby Alderweireld (CB) – The Belgian missed out against his former club last Sunday so he will likely return to the starting XI this time out.
Eric Dier (CB) – Mourinho seems to have made it his mission to transform Dier into a quality centre-back. So far, results have been mixed but as he is among the most stubborn men in the world, expect the England international to continue at the heart of defence on Thursday. Ben Davies (LB) – New signing Sergio Reguilon will not be available due to registration issues, so Davies will continue at left-back. Who knows, maybe against such weak opposition he might fancy venturing across the halfway line a couple of times? Nah, maybe not.
Moussa Sissoko (CM) – Sissoko had a stinker in the previous round against Plovdiv and was also pretty shocking in Spurs’ opening day defeat to Everton. However, for the purposes of rotation he should still make the cut.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (CM) – Spurs’ new signing has featured in all of his side’s games so far, putting in a series of industrious if somewhat underwhelming displays. He is the archetypal Mourinho midfielder and will start again on Thursday. Giovani Lo Celso (CM) – There’s clearly much more to come from the languid playmaker but fans will be expecting a significant improvement following his ineffectual display against Plovdiv last time out.
Erik Lamela (RW) – The Spurs stalwart did fairly well when introduced as a substitute against Plovdiv, though to be fair he could not have done much worse than Spurs’ other forward options. He also did alright against Southampton. Surely that’s enough to earn him a rare start?
Harry Kane (ST) – To be frank, Tottenham should be resting their injury-prone talisman for games like these. The only problem is…he’s the only striker in the squad. Oh dear. Looks like another start for the England skipper then. Steven Bergwijn (RW) – Probably Spurs’ most dangerous looking attacker against Plovdiv. Has only scored once in the Europa League during his career so far. Maybe that will change in North Macedonia?