Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele was injury-free for the side’s clash with Brighton on Boxing Day but did not feel comfortable playing.
The Frenchman, who arrived from Lyon in the summer in a club-record deal, has only started one Premier League match since Mourinho’s arrival and has failed to make the squad on four occasions.
He has been hampered by groin and hamstring issues throughout the season and was working his way back to fitness when he came off the bench against Chelsea at the weekend.
With the fixtures coming thick and fast during the festive period, Ndombele had been expected to play against Brighton but was not even on the bench as Spurs came from behind to win 2-1.
Mourinho – who clashed with several United players who claimed they weren’t fit to play – pointedly revealed afterwards that Ndombele was not carrying an injury, with his attitude in stark contrast to that of long-time absentee Erik Lamela.
Asked if Ndombele was fit to face Brighton, Mourinho paused and said: ‘I cannot say that he is injured because in five minutes we start the training session that maybe you go to the stands and you can watch it.
‘And he’s going to be training normally. So I cannot say that he’s injured. I can say that yesterday he told me he was not feeling in conditions to play the game.
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‘Not based on injury, based on fears of the previous injuries that he’s had since the beginning of the season. Two or three or four muscular injuries.
‘Feeling not ready to start the game. But I cannot say that he’s not injured. I can only say he’s not in conditions, which is a different thing.’
Mourinho’s tone was significantly different when asked about Lamela, continuing: ‘I’m very happy with the guys and even one that did not play, Lamela, he was fantastic.
‘I think he’s 57 or 58 days that he didn’t train with the team. He was injured, he was training individually. He trained with the team twice, after 57 days he trained twice with the team.
‘And he came to me and said, “I think you need me because you are in trouble with injuries and suspensions, no Sonny, if you want me I’m there. If you need me for 10, 15 minutes I’m there.”
‘So he was there, if we needed him to try to score a goal he would be there and that’s the kind of thing that touches me. I like players that make sacrifices for the team.’
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