EPL

Mourinho waiting to see how international break impacts 'very, very hard' March

By Sports Desk March 05, 2021

Jose Mourinho agrees with Jurgen Klopp that club duty must be the top priority for players but is waiting to see how the coming weeks pan out amid uncertainty regarding the upcoming international break.

Liverpool manager Klopp said he could not allow Reds stars to join up with their national teams if it meant a period of quarantine and missing Premier League matches.

"The players are paid by the clubs so that means we have to be the first priority," he said.

Premier League players travelling to 'red list' countries during this month's break would be forced to quarantine for 10 days when they return to England.

Klopp's sentiments have been met with approval by other top-flight coaches, including Spurs boss Mourinho.

But the Portuguese is still waiting to see the impact of the international matches, believing late changes to the schedule could yet ease the burden.

"In this moment, I don't want to speak," Mourinho said. "In this moment, I want to see what is going to happen.

"Do you know, for example, if Argentina-Brazil is going to be played in South America or if it's going to be played, for example, in London? I don't know.

"I know little things; I know Portugal will play in Turin, I know Norway will play in Spain. I don't know much.

"Let's see what is going to happen, where the matches are going to be played.

"Of course, the clubs have the right to protect themselves, because Jurgen is right: the clubs pay the players."

The break comes after a key stretch in Tottenham's season, with Thursday's narrow win at Fulham their first of six games prior to the international fixtures.

Spurs are five points off the top four and Sunday's meeting with Crystal Palace is their only home league match this month.

Palace – 11 points clear of the bottom three – at least tend to make for polite guests, last winning away at Tottenham in 1997. Manager Roy Hodgson has only one victory from 18 attempts against Spurs in the Premier League.

"I think we need the points more than them," Mourinho said.

"If their objective is to be quiet and stable in the middle of the Premier League, they're going to have that anyway. If we want to go up the table, we need points.

"Of course, March is going to be so hard for us: only one match at home, Palace, and then everything after that is away, plus two Europa League matches, plus national team with all the controversy and the problems we may face with that.

"March is going to be very, very hard. If we can add three points to our table, that would be great."

Mourinho expects Serge Aurier to be back involved this weekend, but Giovani Lo Celso is not anticipated to return until Thursday's Europa League last-16 first leg against Dinamo Zagreb.

Meanwhile, Palace may be able to call on Wilfried Zaha for the first time since he hobbled out of a victory at Newcastle United on February 2.

The Eagles' league win rate this season drops from 42.1 per cent to 12.5 per cent when without Zaha, their leading scorer with nine goals, and Mourinho suggested his potential return for this match was typical of Tottenham's misfortune.

"He's a very good player," Mourinho said. "It doesn't surprise me that he's fit to play against us because everybody plays against us.

"Everybody is fit and the goalkeepers always play amazing against us. It doesn't surprise me."

Zaha has not scored or assisted a Premier League goal in his 11 career games against Spurs.

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