Chiriches set to return to face Suarez

Spurs hopeful recognised centre-back pairing will be available to stop Suarez

Tottenham hope  Vlad Chiriches (left)  will face Liverpool. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters

Tottenham hope Vlad Chiriches (left) will face Liverpool. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters

Thu, Dec 12, 2013, 23:00

Andre Villas-Boas is hopeful Tottenham Hotspur will not have to attempt to subdue Luis Suarez with a makeshift defence when Liverpool visit White Hart Lane on Sunday as the centre-back Vlad Chiriches is recovering from knee damage more quickly than expected.

The Romanian missed the 2-1 win at Sunderland after suffering “a heavy knock” to the same knee on which he was operated before joining Spurs last summer and, with Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen already out, the club were forced to deploy Etienne Capoue alongside Michael Dawson in central defence on Wearside.

Spurs are not overly concerned about Chiriches missing tonight’s Europa League tie against Anzhi Makhachkala, since they have already secured first place in their group, but the prospect of confronting the Premier League’s top scorer without a pair of specialist centre-backs is not one Villas-Boas relishes.

In an effort to ensure Chiriches is ready in time, the club have used the same platelet-rich plasma (PRP) technique – also known as “blood-spinning” – they have previously used on Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe, and plan to use on Vertonghen.

The manager said: “We’ve drained some blood from his knee, which was quite scary because there could have been some damage to the knee that was operated on before.”

The match against Anzhi is expected to be low key, with neither team needing any points and the Russians fulfilling their last competitive fixture before a two-month winter break. Villas-Boas will rest the majority of the players he intends to start against Liverpool while reintroducing the left-back Danny Rose after more than three months out injured. The midfielder Christian Eriksen is set to return after a month-long absence.

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