Mourinho's Spurs had a number of injury issues before coronavirus halted football
Wednesday 27 May 2020 10:31, UK
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has told Sky Sports all of his players have recovered from injury, but everybody will struggle to play to their maximum due to the lack of match time.
Before the coronavirus pandemic halted football, Mourinho's Spurs had a number of injury issues, including Harry Kane's long-term hamstring injury, Heung-Min Son's arm injury, plus absences for Steven Bergwijn and Moussa Sissoko.
Mourinho was forced to field depleted sides in February and March due to the injury problems, resulting in them being knocked out of the FA Cup and Champions League.
A start date for the Premier League is still to be decided, and players are yet to return to full-contact training, but Mourinho says his players have recovered from their injuries, though warned that is very different to having full match fitness.
Speaking with Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves for The Football Show, Mourinho said: "I cannot say in this moment they are ready to play because one thing is to recover from an injury, and another is to be ready to play football.
Wednesday: Premier League clubs will vote on whether to resume contact training.
Thursday: Clubs meet again to discuss broader details of Project Restart - including how curtailment of the season would look.
"In Harry's case, I think for about five months he hasn't played, but all of them are not injured any more. They are training, and training is what it is at the moment, training has a lot of limitations. We cannot compete, we cannot do one versus one, we have to keep a certain distance, we cannot compete.
"Harry Kane, Son, Bergwijn, Sissoko, all of them are fine. I think with a couple of weeks of normal training, when the authorities tell us we can train normally I think in a couple of weeks, the boys will be ready to play, of course not in the maximum of their potential, I think nobody can do that in this moment.
"For us, of course, it is a great feeling, because we finished the period with that defeat at Leipzig, where we were really, really in trouble to have 11 players, including attacking players, and in this moment (Erik) Lamela, Son, Dele (Alli), Harry Kane, Bergwijn, everybody is fit now."
Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes on the return of close-contact training at Premier League clubs:
"This is a very positive step in the journey towards the resumption of sport and contact training does literally mean that, but you're not going to have training sessions at the various facilities up and down the country with 11 v 11.
"There is very much an onus on the individual sports, and also on the medics at clubs and COVID-19 officers. They have risk assessments to do and risk mitigation as well.
"Step one was training on an individual basis with social distancing. Step two now allows contact training, so you can go within two metres but only during training sessions and only for the absolute minimum time required.
"Initially they'll probably do it in groups of two to three players, that's the advice that's been given by government, and slowly progress towards larger groups of four to 12 players and ultimately 11 v 11 - but we are still some days from that happening."
The answer, as you'd expect, is complex. But there is one underlying consensus: match fitness is almost impossible to reach without competitive games.
Speaking on Monday's The Football Show, former England physio Gary Lewin outlined the complexities of returning to fitness, namely the differences between physical fitness and match fitness.
"The biggest issue they've got is getting them up to speed physically without the group sessions and contact sessions," Lewin said. "Normally in a pre-season you would start off with a couple of weeks of very light training, close contact rather than full contact, and then building up into contact sessions.
"You work on a players' strength, power, and reaction times, and then you go into contract training and friendlies, slowly building up the competition and intensity over a six to eight-week period.
"The uniqueness of this situation is that they have gone through their physical phase, what you'd call park running in phase one, and then they're going into phase two, where there is still no contact with social distancing, but trying to do some work with the football, and then they're going into full contact.
"They're going to miss out on the general conditioning of falling over, getting up, colliding with players, and that side of the game that you only get with intense training sessions and friendly matches, so there are going to be a few problems."