Gareth Bale looks primed to make his second Tottenham debut against West Ham on Sunday, with boss Jose Mourinho suggesting he will “probably” play.
The Wales international has been stepping up his training at Hotspur Way during the international break as he recovers from the knee injury which has so far delayed his Spurs comeback after returning on a season-long loan from Real Madrid.
Bale has impressed the club’s staff in training this week and Mourinho could be ready to throw him in against the Hammers on Sunday.
“Of course he wants to play. He wanted to play since the day he arrived, and it was not possible,” Mourinho said.
“Probably he plays Sunday, if he doesn’t he will on Thursday, but he’s there, he’s very, very close.
“What I can tell you is that he’s working very well – probably he’s working the way he was not able to do for quite a long time.
“The last week and this week, especially Monday or Tuesday, the planning of the sessions had a big focus on him. And he’s in pretty good condition.
“To win against West Ham is the only thing that matters in this moment. Every player is a really important player, but the Gareth situation is quite special because of his history in the past couple of seasons.
“We care as much about him as he cares about Tottenham, and we are going to make the best decision for him and for the team.
“It’s a physical thing. He didn’t have any pre-season and even in the period after the lockdown he didn’t participate in much with Real Madrid.
“Then he plays a couple of matches with Wales and he had an injury there. So it’s not just about coming and needing a week of work to be at the level.
“It’s more global than that. We don’t want him to be rushed. We want him to feel comfortable, we want him to make the decision of, ‘Yes I’m ready, yes I’m ready to go’.
“It’s more about that, but he’s working so well. It’s just evolution in every thing, every data and every aspect of his condition. He’s there, he’s there.”
The prospect of adding Bale to a front line that put six past Manchester United last time out is a mouth-watering one.
“We have a squad where every player has to fight a lot and play very very well to deserve a place in the team,” Mourinho added. “You can see Bale and Sonny (Son Heung-min) playing together, you can see Bale and Sonny both on the bench and I believe you can see Bale and Sonny both together drinking hot tea in a box.
“The squad is so, so good, is so, so strong. We have so, so many options that I refuse to say this player is a first choice because if you are a first choice today you are going to be a second choice in the next squad and vice-versa. The squad is very, very strong.”
Mourinho has gone on record as thanking “genius” chairman Daniel Levy for helping deliver that squad during the summer transfer window.
As well as Bale, Spurs brought in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Matt Doherty, Joe Hart, Sergio Reguilon and Carlos Vinicius in a window that exceeded Mourinho’s expectations.
“I think it is a great opportunity to thank my boss, my board, Mr Levy, Steve [Hitchin] and everybody involved in the transfer window,” he said.
“What they did for the team was amazing. In such a difficult period where I always believed we were not able to reach some of the targets, some of the needs, the club made an incredible effort.
“Mr Levy showed once more that when he wants and when he is really involved he is a genius in the way he makes deals happen.
“I can only publicly thank them for what they gave to the team. Now it is for me, my staff and players to answer in a positive way and have a good season.
“It was fantastic, it was more than I was expecting. In my analysis of the team’s needs and evolution we were talking about different targets but I never thought we would go so far as we did, especially because of the moment.”
Meanwhile, Mourinho could not resist having a dig at Arsene Wenger when asked why he does not feature in the Frenchman’s new book.
“Because he never beat me,” he said. “You are not going to do a chapter about 13 or 14 matches that you never win so why should he speak about me in his book. A book is a thing to make you happy and proud so I perfectly understand the situation.”
Mourinho has confirmed Harry Kane will start against the Hammers, with new signing Vinicius on the bench, but Eric Dier is a doubt and Giovani Lo Celso and Japhet Tanganga miss out.
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