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Injured Vertonghen sets March comeback target

Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen expects to have recovered from medial collateral knee ligament damage by late March.

The Belgian has not featured since picking up the injury during the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park last month, although Spurs have won all four matches in his absence prior to Thursday's Europa League tie against Fiorentina. 

Those victories have kept Mauricio Pochettino's side on track in the FA Cup and bolstered hopes of a Premier League title challenge, with Spurs two points behind leaders Leicester City.

Vertonghen is eager to play a part, though, and has targeted the international break in late March as a realistic target.

"[The medical team] always give you a timeframe to come back and the target of the injured player coming back is always to beat that time," he told the club's official website.

"I'm out of the brace now and I can walk again so I improve every day. It's hard work and it will take time.

"I'm aiming to be back around the international break and I want to be part of the team and help however I can.

"The lads support me a lot - they come and see me every day as well as the staff. I know I'm around the best people. The lads and the gaffer do everything to give me the feeling that I'm part of this team all the time."

Close-season signing Kevin Wimmer has stepped in to cover Vertonghen's absence, partnering Toby Alderweireld against Colchester United, Norwich City, Watford and Manchester City.

Vertonghen reserved praise for the former Cologne man, adding: "I always knew Kevin was a very good player and that's what pushes me to improve as well.

"There is competition for places all over the pitch and that's what makes the squad so strong. Everyone fits in to the team easily in all competitions and that's the strength that we have here.

"It's easier to fit players in when the team is doing well even if that's younger players from the academy, they just fit in to that level. That's all down to the manager and coaching staff and it's full credit to them."