Jose Mourinho has made up his mind to avoid a centre-back partnership of Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier at Tottenham this season.
The Spurs manager is a big admirer of both players and regards them as two of the top three central defenders available to him at the club along with Davinson Sanchez.
But a Tottenham source has told Football Insider that Mourinho and his staff will be “avoiding at all costs” a pairing of Alderweireld and Dier due to what they see as a lack of combined pace.
It is a partnership that is now seen as a “last resort” and the Portugese will instead look to play a quicker player alongside either of the long-serving duo.
Dier has missed the last two Tottenham matches with a hamstring injury sustained on international duty, and could be sidelined until after the international break.
But he is a favourite of Mourinho’s, who tried to sign him when he was Man United manager, and his conversion to regular centre-back from his former midfield role has been seen as successful.
Tellingly, it was Alderweireld who was axed after the opening-day Premier League defeat to Everton and he only returned to partner Sanchez against West Ham last weekend due to Dier’s absence.
Sanchez was heavily criticised for his own headed own goal as Spurs surrendered a three-goal lead in the last 10 minutes to draw 3-3 against West Ham.
But his recovery pace is seen as crucial to playing a higher defensive line, protecting the goal and limiting the attacks of fleet-footed opponents.
Mourinho’s other options at centre-back are Japhet Tanganga, who is currently sidelined with a thigh injury, versatile left-back Ben Davies and Joe Rodon, who signed from Swansea City in a £15m deal last week.
Davies switched to the left-sided centre-back position last night as he paired Sanchez in what was a comfortable 3-0 Europa League win at LASK.