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Jose Mourinho says he has no choice when it comes to prioritising games

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
(Image credit: Adam Davy)

Jose Mourinho says the EFL has forced his hand into which games he prioritises next week after Tottenham were handed a bye into the Carabao Cup fourth round.

Spurs will host Chelsea on Tuesday night as League Two club Leyton Orient were forced to forfeit their third-round tie after a spate of coronavirus cases meant the game could not go ahead.

The fixture against Frank Lampard’s men means Spurs will play four times in eight days, in three different competitions.

After playing in North Macedonia on Thursday night in Europa League, they host Newcastle in the Premier League on Sunday before the game against Mourinho’s former side on Tuesday.

They are then back in action 48 hours later against Maccabi Haifa in the Europa League play-off before a tough Premier League trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United next Sunday.

“I think the EFL ranked them by themselves,” Mourinho said when asked how he ordered the games in importance.

“We don’t need to rank because they did for us. When they want us to play 48 hours after we finish a Premier League game and 48 before we play for our presence in the Europa League, I think they rank by themselves.

“So I don’t need to rank for us.”

Orient are also unhappy with the EFL as they petitioned that the game should be rescheduled for a later date, but under Carabao Cup rules they have had to forfeit the tie after being unable to fulfil the fixture.

Chairman Nigel Travers argued that his club were able to raise a side in the same week West Ham’s game with Hull was allowed to go ahead despite manager David Moyes and three players testing positive for coronavirus on the day of the match.

An EFL statement read: “In accordance with Carabao Cup Rules, Tottenham Hotspur have been awarded with a bye to progress to Round Four of the Carabao Cup and will now play Chelsea on Tuesday 29 September.

“The Round Three tie scheduled for Tuesday 22 September between Leyton Orient and Tottenham Hotspur could not take place following the issue by Waltham Forest Borough Council of an order preventing the match being played as planned. This followed a number of Leyton Orient players testing positive for COVID-19.

“The EFL Board has determined that in line with Carabao Cup Rule 5.1, the club was unable to fulfil its obligations to complete the fixture by virtue of the Council’s order and shall therefore forfeit the tie.”

Orient’s League Two game with Walsall this weekend has also been called off as the squad continue to self-isolate in the wake of their positive tests.

Orient head coach Ross Embleton said: “We’re devastated that this has happened, but this club is used to setbacks. It’s really important that players, staff and supporters stick together through tough times.”

Spurs were planning on using Tuesday’s game against Orient to raise significant funds for the JE3 Foundation, set up in honour of former defender Justin Edinburgh, who was Orient’s manager when he died from a heart attack last summer.

They were going to auction their matchday shirts with all proceeds going to the foundation, but have confirmed they will now do so from another fixture.

The Premier League club said in a statement: “Everyone at Tottenham Hotspur sends their best wishes to Leyton Orient for the health and wellbeing of their players and staff, their families and all those affected at this time.

“We remain committed to helping to raise funds in aid of the JE3 Foundation, set up in the memory of Justin Edinburgh, and shall update in due course on auctioning match-worn shirts from a different fixture.”

Spurs fans also rallied in the wake of the cancellation of the game, helping the League Two club top £20,000 of sales in their club shop on Tuesday and Wednesday, where they bought Orient shirts, which are sponsored by Harry Kane.