Tottenham Hotspur are hopeful that Andros Townsend will not miss more than a month of first-team football after his hamstring tear against West Ham United, with the early indications that the England international's injury is not as severe as first feared.
The Spurs winger pulled up chasing a ball down the right in the second half of the Capital One Cup quarter-final defeat to West Ham on Wednesday night. It is understood that Townsend was diagnosed with a grade two tear of the hamstring, in the middle of the scale. A grade three tear can require surgery.
The 22-year-old was making his 15th start of the season for Spurs and is a firm favourite of Tim Sherwood, who will be in charge of the team for the visit to Southampton on Sunday. Sherwood oversaw much of Townsend's development during nine loan periods over four years and is an obvious pick for the style of football the interim coach wants to play.
Sherwood was told by his chairman, Daniel Levy, that he will take the team against Southampton, having said on Wednesday that he was unsure whether he would be needed in the role. Sherwood will hold a press conference this lunchtime at the training ground in Enfield and will begin reassessing his squad this morning.
The Ajax coach, Frank de Boer, who has been discussed as a potential long-term successor to Andre Villas-Boas, who was removed on Monday, has indicated that he would not be prepared to take over mid-season.
Sherwood said on Wednesday that his team had tired in the final stages of the tie against West Ham, having been asked to play at a much quicker tempo than they were accustomed to under Villas-Boas. The Premier League game with Southampton will be another test of that style, with the home side having lost just once in the league this season at St Mary's.
Mousa Dembélé spoke on Wednesday night about the Spurs squad's sadness at the dismissal of Villas-Boas, conceding that all the Portuguese coach's former players felt "guilty". Dembele said: "It has been very tough. We're used to training under Villas-Boas and seeing him every day. It's a new change so we have to adapt. We're used to another manager and now we have this one, but everybody is still positive. You could see that out on the pitch.
"Everyone feels guilty and that's a normal thing. It's a team sport, it's not one guy that's responsible, everybody is responsible. We have talked among the team and we said to each other, 'Now let's do it'. It's everybody's fault. We are one team, all together."
Sherwood will hope to have Younes Kaboul fit and available for selection for the Southampton match. Michael Dawson will return after suspension. The striker Emmanuel Adebayor and left-back Danny Rose, both unable to play the full 90 minutes on Wednesday, will also have to be assessed. Erik Lamela missed Wednesday's match with a small injury.
Speaking to the club's in-house media, Adebayor, Tottenham's goalscorer against West Ham, said that he had proved he could take his chance when offered one. "I've been working on finishing since the start of the season," he said. "I was hanging in there waiting for my chance. Tim gave me the chance to play football again.
"I've still got my smile on my face. I got a chance, I took it well. I'm very happy. Now the most important thing is me scoring goals, confidence is back. We just have to keep working hard, put more heart into it and it will be better. Hopefully, this Sunday we'll have a chance to win. We have to get out there with confidence, with belief and take the three points."
Asked whether he would like Sherwood to get the job on a permanent basis, Dembélé said: "It's difficult to say right now because it's just happened recently. I don't know Tim that well. But the way he talks and his manner, I think everyone likes this. After one day I know things have gone very well and I'm very positive."
Dembélé said that Adebayor had trained well in spite of his prolonged absence from the first team under Villas-Boas this season, bar that one half he played against Manchester City.
"Of course, he [Adebayor] is hungry [to play]. You could see that in training for a long time. We have a very good squad and everyone is very hungry because we have a lot of competition for places. Everybody is very sharp every day, but now we need to show it on the pitch that everything is not finished."