Tottenham short 11 and down two for Benfica clash
Spurs will start with 42-year-old Brad Friedel in goal for their Europa League clash in Portugal
Brad Friedel (42) will be in goal for Tottenham Hotspur for tonight’s Europa Cup last 16, second leg tie against Benfica in Lisbon. Photograph: Gary M Prior/Getty Images
Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood again had to field questions about his future ahead of a Europa League clash at Benfica made all the more difficult by a “crippling injury list”.
As if overcoming a 3-1 deficit was not bad enough, Spurs have had to travel to Portugal without 11 first-teamers for the last-16 return leg.
Hugo Lloris, Erik Lamela, Etienne Capoue, Mousa Dembele, Paulinho and Emmanuel Adebayor are all sidelined for the clash in Lisbon, where the north Londoners’ defence is the biggest concern.
Michael Dawson, Vlad Chiriches, Younes Kaboul and Kyle Walker are all injured, while Jan Vertonghen’s suspension has only compounded matters.
Such paucity of options means Sherwood has had to bring seven players who have yet to play for the first team to Portugal.
“I won’t throw any of them on unless I need to. There’s a time and a place to blood young talent,” said Sherwood.
“Unless we absolutely need to they won’t be thrown into this lion’s den because you could end up killing someone’s career before it’s even started.
The youngsters that have travelled to Lisbon vary from 16-year-old attacking midfielder Joshua Onomah to Scotland Under-21s goalkeeper Jordan Archer, who is likely to be back-up to 42-year-old Brad Friedel at the Estadio da Luz.
Another defeat would heap further pressure on Sherwood, who had to answer yet more questions about his future at the pre-match press conference.
Louis van Gaal is the bookmakers’ favourite to take the White Hart Lane helm and he recently fuelled speculation by reaffirming his desire to manage in the Premier League.
Van Gaal is not the only manager to irritate Sherwood, who is preparing for the second part of his clash with Benfica counterpart Jorge Jesus.
Having quarrelled throughout last week’s match, the Portuguese showed the Spurs boss three fingers after Luisao made it 3-1.
Sherwood was quick to reject suggestions Jesus mentioned Villas-Boas when goading him, but clearly has little time for the Benfica manager and joked he might give him a hand gesture of his own tonight.