Tottenham Hotspur could potentially leave out nine players who featured in this summer's FIFA World Cup - including Golden Boot winner Harry Kane - for their first match of the Premier League season. The Lilywhites will kick off their league campaign against Newcastle United at St. James' Park on Saturday.
Quoted by the Shields Gazette, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino explained: "It would be better for these players to miss the first one or two games than to play and end up getting injured and missing more games further down the line."
Referring directly to Spurs' opener, Pochettino added: "It’s a massive challenge for these players to get fit in time for the Newcastle game. Almost impossible. If we feel it's too much of a risk to play these players then, no matter how much work they have been doing, we will not play them."
As well as England striker Kane, eight other World Cup stars could be omitted from Spurs' starting lineup on Saturday - England's Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Dele Alli, Belgium stars Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele, and France's World Cup winning captain Hugo Lloris.
Newcastle will likely be buoyed by the prospect of facing what would virtually be a Spurs second team on Saturday, especially seeing as manager Rafael Benitez has once again been left frustrated by owner Mike Ashley's unwillingness to invest heavily in new players.
So far this summer, the Magpies have only signed South Korea midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung from Swansea City, Japan forward Yoshinori Muto from Mainz, and Switzerland defender Fabian Schar from Deportivo La Coruna - none of whom was ever likely to set the fans' hearts racing.
To the consternation of many Spurs fans, the Londoners have been even less dynamic in the transfer market than Newcastle. The side who finished third in last season's Premier League are yet to make a single signing this summer.