• Defender recovering from knee injury quicker than expected
• Players rested for Europa League tie with Anzhi Makhachkala
André Villas-Boas is hopeful that Tottenham Hotspur will not have to attempt to subdue Luis Suárez with a makeshift defence when Liverpool visit White Hart Lane on Sunday as the centre-back Vlad Chiriches is recovering from knee damage more quickly than expected.
The Romanian missed last weekend's 2-1 win at Sunderland after suffering "a heavy knock" to the same knee on which he was operated before joining Spurs last summer and, with Younès Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen already sidelined, the club were forced to deploy Etienne Capoue alongside Michael Dawson in central defence on Wearside.
Spurs are not overly concerned about Chiriches missing Thursday's Europa League tie against Anzhi Makhachkala, since they have already secured first place in their group, but the prospect of confronting the Premier League's top scorer on Sunday without a pair of specialist centre-backs is not one Villas-Boas relishes.
In an effort to ensure Chiriches is ready in time, the club have used the same platelet-rich plasma (PRP) technique – also known as 'blood-spinning' – that they have previously used on Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe – and plan to use on Vertonghen – and the manager says the results are encouraging. "There's a good possibility Vlad will be available for the game against Liverpool," said Villas-Boas.
"He took a heavy knock to the knee, so it's swollen up quite lot. We've drained some blood from his knee, which was quite scary because there could have been some damage to the knee that was operated on before. We've used some PRP treatment and it has gone down."
Tottenham currently lie three points behind Liverpool in the league and Villas-Boas believes that victory on Sunday would banish any lingering gloom around White Hart Lane and prove that his revamped side is making good progress, despite the criticism he has endured.
"We have this wonderful situation against Liverpool where, if we win, we go level on points with a team that started so brilliantly in the league. You have a comparison there: from everything we've gone through to be level on points with a team who have been so magnificent shows we are not far off. It was this fixture we lost against Everton last season, so to be four points better off than last season would be a good start for us."
The match against Anzhi is expected to be relatively low key, with neither team needing any points from the game and the Russians fulfilling their last competitive fixture before a two-month winter break. Villas-Boas will rest the majority of the players he intends to start against Liverpool while reintroducing the left-back Danny Rose after more than three months out injured. The midfielder Christian Eriksen is also set to return after a month-long absence, while youngsters Ryan Fredericks, Shaquile Coulthirst and Laste Dombaxe are also in the squad.
Spurs (probable): Friedel; Naughton, Dawson, Capoué, Rose; Sandro, Fredericks; Sigurdsson, Eriksen, Lamela; Soldado.