Spurs need to get through 4 ties in 11 days
IT IS a mark of how far Tottenham Hotspur have come that they start as favourites to win what could be a pivotal Champions League Group E fixture away to Bayer Leverkusen tonight despite the absence of key defender Toby Alderweireld.
Spurs have yet to confirm that the Belgium centre-half has joined England striker Harry Kane as a non-starter.
But the manner in which Alderweireld left the pitch clutching his knee at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday suggests he will not feature.
He has been in commanding form alongside compatriot Jan Vertonghen at the heart of a Spurs defence that is the Premier League's meanest this season.
The Belgian's raking crossfield balls, three of which were delivered with pinpoint accuracy before his injury on Saturday, also put down the marker for the way Spurs play.
In Alderweireld's absence, manager Mauricio Pochettino can play Eric Dier or Kevin Wimmer alongside Vertonghen in defence.
Wimmer, the Austria centre- half, has been on the periphery this season but was a capable replacement last term when called upon.
Injuries apart, Tottenham travel to Germany awash with confidence as they prepare to play four games in 11 days.
Midfielder Dele Alli said they should have won their game at West Brom after spurning several chances.
While Spurs are the Premier League's only unbeaten side, they stumbled in their opening Champions League group game with Monaco.
The latter won 2-1 at Wembley where Spurs are playing in the competition this season while they start to build a new stadium at their home ground.
Tottenham bounced back to win 1-0 at CSKA Moscow in their next group match with a goal from Son Heung Min.
He was rested on Saturday after playing for South Korea.
Leverkusen have had a patchy start to the season and come into tonight's game with two wins from their last seven games. REUTERS