Tottenham could be without three key players for north London derby against Arsenal


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The Independent Football

Andre Villas-Boas could be without three key players as his Tottenham side look to bounce back from their disappointing defeat at Manchester City by overcoming Arsenal in Saturday’s north London derby.

Kyle Walker, Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon will be assessed tomorrow after they suffered hamstring injuries during Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester City, which prevented them from taking part in England’s friendly in Sweden tomorrow. Walker and Lennon withdrew from the original squad and Defoe was unable to link up with Roy Hodgson’s group as cover for Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney.

Tottenham remain hopeful that the players will be able to return but it is thought they would have had no chance of playing in a midweek game had Spurs had one.

Walker looked in some discomfort when he limped off towards the end of the match at Etihad Stadium, while Lennon was also replaced late on. Defoe played little part in the game after coming on as an 80th-minute substitute for Emmanuel Adebayor.

At first, the damage to Walker looked more severe than to the other two but Lennon has suffered with hamstring problems before and risks longer-term damage if he plays when not fully fit. Defoe’s absence would also be a significant blow, as he remains Spurs’ top scorer this season and, along with Adebayor, is one of only two senior strikers at the club.

Villas-Boas will be hoping for better news from Mousa Dembele. The Belgian midfielder has not played for Spurs since October 7 because of a hip injury and is struggling to be fit for the trip to Emirates Stadium.

Spurs decided not to send Dembele for surgery to cure the problem but they have missed his energy and creativity in the centre and desperately need him to recover, with matches against Lazio, West Ham and Liverpool to follow the north London derby.

Younes Kaboul, Scott Parker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto also remain sidelined as Spurs approach an important period of their season.