LONDON • Such was Mauricio Pochettino's confidence in Dele Alli adapting to a "false nine" role that Tottenham were not going to reinforce their front line, even after the ankle injury suffered by Harry Kane and Son Heung-min's absence due to the Asian Cup.
However, the Spurs manager's plans not to spend in the January transfer market were thrown into disarray on Tuesday night after scans confirmed his worst fears.
Alli suffered a hamstring injury during last Sunday's 2-1 Premier League win at Fulham and the club revealed he would now undergo rehabilitation and is expected to return to training in early March.
The midfielder, who is set to miss a host of key games including the the Champions League last-16 first leg against Borussia Dortmund and a league match at Chelsea, tweeted he was "gutted" with the diagnosis.
He said: "I will do everything in my power to return as quick as possible. Thank you for the messages."
The 22-year-old's six-week spell on the sidelines comes at the worst time for Spurs, with the club looking to defend their one-goal lead going into today's second leg of their League Cup semi-final with Chelsea.
They will travel to Stamford Bridge without Kane, who is out till March, Son and Alli, and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson felt now was "a good time" to play Tottenham.
He told Sky: "If you could say before the game that you can pull out three players from that team, then it would be Kane, Alli and Son."
But Eric Dier insisted Spurs could not feel "sorry for ourselves" and it would not be an excuse if Pochettino's men fail in their attempt to lift their first piece of silverware since 2008.
Insisting the team were not "sulking about it", the midfielder said: "Every team gets injuries, we have to deal with it."
There was better news as they bid to reach their first final in four years while exacting a measure of revenge against the team that beat them in the 2015 League Cup final.
Moussa Sissoko and Victor Wanyama have returned to training along with Lucas Moura who, after a three-game absence, is expected to feature in Alli's absence.
There were also reports of unrest in their London rivals' dressing room.
Manager Maurizio Sarri publicly questioned his men's mental strength and revealed it was "extremely difficult" to motivate them in the wake of last Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Arsenal.
While Sky pundit Gary Neville said on his weekend podcast it was now "inevitable that Sarri would get the sack at some point", Marcos Alonso has backed his boss and challenged his teammates to prove they have what it takes to arrest their slide, starting with Spurs.
Amid suggestions that several players are unhappy with his tactics, including playing N'Golo Kante and Eden Hazard out of position while favouring Jorginho, Alonso claimed the Blues manager's criticism was justified.
The Spain defender said: "When you lose, you learn. We have to perform again (against Spurs)."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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