Why Cristian Romero is not part of the Tottenham squad for North London Derby vs Arsenal
Cristian Romero has missed out on the Tottenham squad for this evening's North London Derby against Arsenal due to a hip injury. A regular in the Spurs XI since the start of February after recovering from a three-month layoff because of a hamstring problem, the Argentine's absence is a huge blow for Antonio Conte's side in such a pivotal game in the top-four race.
Davinson Sanchez comes into the Tottenham backline as a result, partnering Eric Dier and Ben Davies in the back three. Speaking ahead of the game, the Spurs boss revealed that Romero sustained the problem in Saturday's 1-1 draw against Liverpool and has not recovered in sufficient time.
"In the game against Liverpool he received a hit on his hip. After the game he had pain and is not right to recover," said Conte.
The Spurs boss also confirmed that he's not sure if his player will be back for the final two games of the campaign against Burnley and Norwich City. Romero's absence leaves Conte with limited defensive options on the bench, with Joe Rodon the only senior centre-back option available to the boss.
Academy player Matthew Craig, who has been selected in the squad once again, has played as a centre-back in the past but does tend to operate in midfield. Alfie Devine has come into the matchday 20 as a result of Romero missing out, meaning the Lilywhites have an extremely youthful bench with a host of first-team players on the sidelines at present.
This evening's showdown is a must-win game for the Lilywhites if they want to secure a top-four finish come the final day and play in next season's Champions League. A draw would leave the team relying on favours from Newcastle and Everton in the run-in when they come up against Arsenal, while a win for the Gunners will see them clinch a top-four position at the expense of Tottenham.