Football: Mourinho to rotate Spurs players amid gruelling festive schedule

Certain “unique players” will feature more than others, said Mourinho (above, centre). PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho said he will rotate his squad amid a busy festive schedule but certain "unique players" will feature more than others as his team look to stay top of the Premier League.

Spurs moved into the Europa League knockout stage as group winners with a 2-0 victory over Royal Antwerp on Thursday and are set to play seven times in the next 21 days, which include six Premier League games and a League Cup quarter-final.

"The Europa League is over now for a couple of months, but now is an accumulation of matches in the Premier League that, to be honest, are more difficult than the Europa League matches," Mourinho told reporters.

"The quality of teams is higher in the Premier League. We have also a quarter-final to play against Stoke City, and Stoke are doing so, so well in the (second-tier) Championship. With so many matches, do we need to make rotations? Of course.

"It's impossible for a player to play all these matches with a short period of time. But at the same time there are unique players... in spite of the squad being very good, we have to try to give them more minutes because they can make a difference."

Mourinho did not mention who those players were but captain Hugo Lloris and midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have played every minute in the league so far, followed by forwards Harry Kane and Son Heung-min who have scored 18 goals between them.

Tottenham lead the standings on 24 points from 11 games, above champions Liverpool on goal difference and two points ahead of London rivals Chelsea.

Spurs travel to Crystal Palace on Sunday and Mourinho, who was named the Premier League manager of the month for November, said he was aware of the many threats posed by Roy Hodgson's side even though he had not had time to work on his plans.

"One of the things is the quality of (Wilfried) Zaha... The players, the manager, the coaching staff is basically the same as previous seasons," Mourinho said.

"They defend with lots of people and experience but they have quality in attack - organised attack, counter-attack and set pieces. They are a team that can threaten in many different situations."

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