Tottenham Hotspur are hoping Mousa Dembélé's hip injury can clear up with some rest and tender loving care rather than the surgeon's knife.
Spurs' play has slowed down worryingly since the Belgium midfielder was injured on international duty and his manager, Andre Villas-Boas, admitted yesterday the club has opted against surgery in the belief that he can recover in a fortnight.
"On Mousa, there is a diagnosis that can be interpreted in two ways," Villas-Boas said ahead of tonight's Europa League game at home to Maribor. "One is to have surgery immediately, but without certainty it will cure the problem. Or there is rest, manual therapy, swimming pool ... that allows the player the possibility of return within 10 to 15 days, so we take that option at the moment."
Villas-Boas insisted that Spurs can survive without him. "We had good games without Mousa," he said. "Against Chelsea we gave them a run for their money, we had the opportunity to win that game and we played well. We had extremely good games against Southampton and Norwich. Good players are missed but this squad is full of good players."
Tottenham were dismal against Wigan last Saturday, though, and the manager admitted that there have been talks about changing to a 4-4-2 system. The fans voiced their displeasure when Emmanuel Adebayor was brought on not for a midfielder but for Jermain Defoe.
"We have had the thoughts in between the technical staff about changing our structure," Villas-Boas revealed. "We have had success in the past with the system we are playing. We certainly have played 4-4-2 in some games when Adebayor has come on. It is something we look on because last year this club was successful in this system. We have the players to do it. For sure you will see us using it quite often during the season. If the right time is [now] I am not sure yet."
Adebayor has not started a game yet this season but Villas-Boas said he still had faith in the striker Spurs bought from Manchester City in August. "Certainly, there is no interest in selling him or either loaning," he said, about reported interest from Celta Vigo. "Unfortunately for him it has not been working out in terms of injuries. He has missed very important games, and a very important sequence of games. We have full belief in Adebayor, he is one of the greatest strikers in the world."
Sandro is out tonight and Jake Livermore faces a late fitness test.