Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says he won’t be counting on Son Heung-min again this season after seeing the forward sidelined with a fractured arm.
The club announced on Tuesday that Son will undergo surgery on the issue, before starting a rehabilitation programme which will keep him out of action for a “number of weeks”.
The South Korea international had been filling in up front for Spurs in the absence of Harry Kane, who sustained a serious hamstring injury in January.
Kane is not expected to return to the pitch until April, and Mourinho was unable to bring in an extra forward as cover for a talismanic figure during the winter transfer window.
Son has led the line admirably since being switched into a central role, and helped himself to another two goals during a 3-2 victory over Aston Villa on Sunday – taking his tally for the season to nine.
That result saw Tottenham move to within a point of fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League standings, but Mourinho will now be forced to rethink his approach ahead of a Champions League last-16 meeting with RB Leipzig on Wednesday.
The Portuguese tactician doesn’t expect to welcome Son back before the end of the 2019-20 campaign, and claims “the situation couldn’t be worse” for his side as they head into a crucial period.
“We are going to miss him. The club wrote a nice statement. If I was the one to write the statement I would write differently. We miss him,” Mourinho told a press conference when asked to discuss Son’s injury.
“I’m not going to count on him again this season. If he plays two or three games then it’s because he (his press officer) is very optimistic, but I’m not counting on him.
“The situation couldn’t be worse. That is obvious. There is nothing we can do. We are going to play with the players we have available. I was worried about not having attacking options on the bench, now I don’t have attacking options on the pitch!
“No strikers, no market. Nothing. The only help we can have is our crowd. The Tottenham supporters, that is the only thing that I ask because to the players I cannot ask more than what they are giving.”
Mourinho added on Tottenham’s bid to qualify for the Champions League for a fifth successive season: “I like analogies. When we arrived, we were -12 [from fourth].
“We started climbing the stairs but the stairs immediately broke. We found a way, we start climbing and, 11 floors up, when we arrive on the fourth floor, someone took the stairs away!”
Lucas Moura and Dele Alli are still available to Mourinho, and January signing Steven Bergwijn is another option for Spurs after making a bright start to his career in English football.
Teenager striker Troy Parrott could also be granted a more prominent role in the team, with Tottenham set to switch their focus to a crucial Premier League meeting with Chelsea after their latest European outing.