Sam Allardyce has outlined how he will bring Seamus Coleman back into the fold now that the Irishman has started training again with the first-team squad.
The Republic of Ireland captain has been slowly building up his fitness from the broken leg he suffered back in March 2017 when playing for his country against Wales, with Allardyce revealing at Tuesday's General Meeting that the defender has returned to the senior group.
The Blues boss admits to having to manage the 29-year-old’s eagerness to follow the likes of Yannick Bolasie and James McCarthy in making his return, but has given an insight into the plan in place to ensure he can call upon the right-back’s services as soon as possible.
“Seamus is still a considerable way away at the moment because of his long-standing injury,” said Allardyce. “He has been introduced to training with the first-team squad now and we monitor him on a daily basis, not just the area around the injury but his whole body.
“Seamus has to get match fitness as quickly as he can, and that will give him a better chance in full-time training with the players. We will set up a few behind-closed-doors games to let him play in, then introduce him back to the squad and continue to monitor him daily to see how he feels.
“I think if I asked him today if he would join the squad to play against Tottenham, he would say, “Yes – I’m fit enough”. But obviously we have got a few more indicators to monitor to ensure that when he does come back, his body is ready to cope with the physical challenge he has missed for so long.”
Fellow defender Michael Keane is another who will miss out on the trip to Wembley. The 25-year-old sat out of the FA Cup tie with Liverpool after suffering a gash to his foot in the Toffees’ previous game against Manchester United, and injury that required stiches.
The problem is located in the same spot where Keane suffered an infection following a cut sustained in the Carabao Cup tie against Sunderland in September, which has led to caution this time around.
“Michael is not back,” added Allardyce. “He has sustained a nasty gash on the top of his foot, which reopened an old one that had occurred before. It is unfortunate for him and for us because it is in exactly the same place as the old one.
“It has taken a little bit longer because we are being a little more cautious over the healing process. He won’t be available for the weekend.”