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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
George Sessions

Rodrigo Bentancur return eases Tottenham’s injury crisis

PA Wire

Ange Postecoglou is excited to see Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur close to his best again amid a growing injury crisis at the club.

Spurs host Aston Villa on Sunday with at least nine first-team players ruled out and Pape Sarr a doubt after he returned with a knock from international duty with Senegal.

A much-needed positive for the Australian is the return to fitness of Bentancur, who made his first competitive start in nine months in Uruguay’s 3-0 win over Bolivia on Tuesday after a serious knee injury.

With first-choice midfielders James Maddison (ankle) and Yves Bissouma (suspended) definitely absent for the visit of Villa, Bentancur could be thrust into action.

“The back four is probably the major issue for us at the moment. We’re really low on depth there, but midfield as well. That’s just the period we’re going through,” Postecoglou reflected.

“The fact Rodrigo got an opportunity to start (for Uruguay) is good for us. It gives him that confidence that he’s able to get through a game.

“The beauty of him is he can play a couple of different areas. I think he can play as a six, he can play further forward as an eight and he’s even creative. I think he can score goals as well.

“We were kind of hoping with him, Madders, Pape, Biss and people like Pierre(-Emile Hojbjerg) we were well stocked in that midfield area for different kinds of combinations, but obviously that has been disrupted a bit.

“The key for Rodrigo is to get him back to that level physically and mentally where he feels really comfortable about playing at this level.

“I don’t think he is far off it from what I’ve seen and again certainly over the next few weeks he will get that opportunity.”

Bentancur was one of Tottenham’s best players last season and impressed in a box-to-box role before he sustained anterior cruciate ligament damage in February.

Uruguay boss Marcelo Bielsa used him at the base of a midfield three on Tuesday, which is where Bissouma has played for Spurs so far this season.

With Bissouma suspended for the Villa match after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the campaign at Wolves, Postecoglou hinted Bentancur could fill that void.

He said: “Yeah, potentially. Watching the (Bolivia) game and how he played, he did it really well so you know he can play there.

“I don’t think he is that far off from a physical perspective of being able to play his normal game, whether that is box-to-box, and part of it is getting belief in himself and his own body that he is capable of doing it.”

Spurs’ hopes of returning to winning ways have been hit by their lengthy injury list, but Postecoglou insisted: “Aston Villa will be a great test for us, but we’re at home.

“Apart from the Chelsea game, our home form has been really strong and we need to make sure we get back to that.”

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