Noel Whelan has shot down any fears over Tanguy Ndombele’s fitness despite being regularly substituted by Jose Mourinho at Tottenham.
The former Leeds and Middlesbrough striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, believes the French midfielder has the capability to see out games but that the Portuguese boss has a host of talent he can call on if his quality drops.
Fellow Football Insider pundit Paul Robinson insisted it was “concerning” the 23-year-old had only managed to play the full 90 minutes twice in the Premier League and that it was time for the midfielder to “step up” over the coming months.
Ndombele has only seen out two full games this season – against Chelsea in the League Cup and Shkendija in the Europa League qualifiers – while his longest league runout was his 79 minutes versus Burnley.
He was left unused on the substitutes’ bench for the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool on Wednesday night, having played 67 minutes against Crystal Palace the Sunday previous.
However, Whelan has insisted there is nothing to worry about and that Mourinho is simply ensuring he gets the best out of Ndombele, even if it means subbing him off or leaving him out entirely.
“I think there’s no doubt he can get through 90 minutes,” Whelan told Football Insider.
“It’s about what he’s on the field for, the amount of quality he can bring in certain times during the game and maybe they need some extra legs and a little bit more dynamic players out there because it’s demanding.
“It’s a demanding game 90 minutes now, in the Premier League, and it might be a tactic that Jose Mourinho wants – give a really good 70 minutes, the last 20 are for somebody else.
“We saw him make changes the other, Moura coming on, Bergwijn going off, they’ve got an abundance of quality at Tottenham, this squad is fantastic, it really is. It’s competitive, it’s full of international quality.
“There’s no doubt they’re going to be up there, they’re not going away, Tottenham, they’ll be there all season and the demands from Jose Mourinho will demand that. I think the mentality has changed at Tottenham as well so I don’t think we need to question Ndombele not concluding 90 minutes.
“I think tactically Jose Mourinho knows what he’s doing, don’t you worry. He’ll get the very maximum out of a player, when you see a little bit of a dip, not in fitness but that bit of quality when legs are tired, you’ve got to make the change.”