Here is a probable starting lineup Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas may field against UEFA Europa League opponent Sheriff Tiraspol.
GK: Brad Friedel
The talking point wasn't his bravado. Instead, it was Villas-Boas' foolhardy and unethical decision to veto the recommendation from the Spurs' medical staff to immediately sub Lloris off.
"The medical department was giving me signs that the player [Lloris] couldn't carry on," Villas-Boas said, via Si Hughes at The Telegraph. "From my knowledge of football, he seemed OK to continue."
No, it's Mr. Villas-Boas, therefore, he shouldn't have any say when it comes to a medical decision.
Lloris should be rested in a meaningless Europa League game against Sheriff, a team that have yet to win a game in Group K.
For those wondering if outcast Heurelho Gomes could make an appearance, he's ineligible.
According to UEFA.com, Villas-Boas omitted Gomes while registering Lloris, Friedel, Jordan Archer and Jonathan Miles as Tottenham goalkeepers in the Europa League.
Friedel, the 42-year-old veteran, saved two penalties in a penalty shoot-out victory over Hull City last week in the League Cup.
He's an outstanding professional who's an ideal deputy to Lloris.
RB: Kyle Walker
The other Kyle, Kyle Naughton, wasn't on the bench in the 0-0 draw against Everton, and it remains to be seen if he has recovered from the knock he suffered against Hull.
If Naughton isn't fit enough to play against Sheriff, Walker should be aware who he is coming up against.
Even though Luvannor didn't really trouble Naughton when Spurs defeated Sheriff 2-0 in the last Europa League Matchday, the Moldovan club's left attacking midfielder has scored 12 times in 10 league games.
CB: Vlad Chiriches
He and Michael Dawson communicated well as they stopped Lukaku of Everton from dominating while also keeping Leon Osman, the deep-lying forward, quiet.
Tottenham have yet to concede a goal when Chiriches has started a game.
Maybe it's because he's not playing for my team, but i'm really starting to like Vlad Chiriches #Spurs— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) November 3, 2013
CB: Younes Kaboul
Kaboul has not started a Premier League game this season, but he has featured in the Europa League.
He played in two qualifiers against Dinamo Tbilisi.
He intercepted the ball three times in the 3-0 win over Tromso, but then he suffered a minor setback when he was forced off in the win over Anzhi Makhachkala.
If Kaboul is fully-fit, easing him back into the fray against Sheriff is a logical move.
LB: Jan Vertonghen
He has reiterated his unhappiness at left-back (again) even though he marked Everton's right attacking midfielder Kevin Mirallas out of the game.
"I can play at left-back, but everyone knows I am not a left-back," Vertonghen said, via Liam Prenderville at The Mirror. "Sometimes it's better if you can play in only one position."
This is a game where Vertonghen should be rested, but if Naughton and Zeki Fryers aren't fit enough, the Belgian will have to do another job at left-back.
DM: Moussa Dembele
In three Europa League games this season, he has started in a deep-lying midfield position all three times.
He brings box-to-box running, can beat opposing players off the dribble, orchestrates play in midfield and gets stuck into opponents.
He's a complete midfielder.
DM: Etienne Capoue
In three league games, he has won back the ball 21 times, which is an astonishingly productive start to his career at Spurs, especially when you take into account he's only played out an entire game once.
An ankle injury in the North London derby has kept him on the sidelines.
Though he was on the bench against Hull and has been training with the first team, he may be fit to start against Sheriff.
How about Sandro? He has been ruled out of the Sheriff game for precautionary reasons.
"Sandro was taken off against Everton with some pain in his hamstring," Villas-Boas said, via Kieran Beckles at The Sport Review. "So, we've left him out of the game."
Should Tottenham score a few quick goals, you may see a cameo appearance from 18-year-old midfielder Nabil Bentaleb.
"As soon as we achieve it, we can look at it as an opportunity to throw them [youngsters] into a senior game," Villas-Boas said, via Paul Hirst at The Independent. "Nabil [Bentaleb], definitely, is training so well that he is always in contention to break in to the team."
RAM: Erik Lamela
In 72 minutes of Premier League action spread over four sub appearances, Lamela has yet to complete one single dribble.
One of his best attributes, taking on players, has been nonexistent.
There are several factors why he has been anonymous so far:
- Before he made his debut for Spurs, he found out his brother, Axel, was kidnapped (Axel was released after a ransom was paid).
- Lamela does not speak fluent English.
- He cannot put forward his case in limited minutes while Andros Townsend, one of the most dynamic dribblers in the world, continues to torch opposing full-backs.
- Surely, there must be regret in leaving Roma, a team that have started the season by winning 10 of their first 11 Serie A games.
Lamela needs to play the full 90 minutes against Sheriff because he is a few goals away from snapping out of this funk.
He knows that Townsend is an exceptional dribbler, but the Englishman has no end product (one goal and no assists in nine league games), so there is an opening for Lamela to win the starting role.
CAM: Lewis Holtby
He is a classy No. 10 who can play a variety of positions, but with assists against Tromso and Anzhi Makhachkala, expect him to start as the centre attacking midfielder.
If Holtby is relatively quiet, Harry Kane deserves a run in the second half playing behind the No. 9 in a deep-lying forward role.
He isn't just a striker who can score, but he also has the capability to create goals for his teammates, as he did in the FIFA U-20 World Cup match against Iraq.
And on @hkane28, Andre said: 'Great game for Harry Kane. He deserved a place in the team tonight. He's been training & working really hard'— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 30, 2013
LAM: Aaron Lennon
In his last two games, he has started on the left as an inverted winger, which isn't a foreign position to him, per Kevin McCarra at The Guardian; March 5, 2007: "We've seen Aaron Lennon, who can play right side and has played left side quite regularly," Steve McClaren said. "On Sunday [against Chelsea], he gave a great performance at the head of a diamond."
That said, Lennon played on the right in the 2-0 win over Sheriff in the last Matchday and hit the post.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is the other option to start on the left.
CF: Jermain Defoe
In reaction to Defoe being targeted by MLS team Toronto FC, coached by ex-teammate Ryan Nelsen, Villas-Boas' answer suggested Defoe will be the undisputed starter in the Europa League.
"[Defoe] at the moment is our top goal scorer, and he is chasing the European record for the club as well, which is important for his individual motivation," Villas-Boas said, via Dom Bryant at talkSPORT. "I think he is extremely happy."
Villas-Boas needs to start Defoe in the Europa League to keep him "extremely happy," which balances out him being the backup to Roberto Soldado in the Premier League.
In three Europa League starts, Defoe has scored four goals.