Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says he could be without several of his World Cup stars for the start of the new Premier League campaign.
The Argentine coach has seen his preparations for the 2018-19 season hampered by the absence of numerous members of his squad who were involved in the latter stages of the World Cup in Russia.
Spurs are still without Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane, all of whom are scheduled to report back to start pre-season on Monday.
The late return of so many members of his first-team party from their summer holidays has left Pochettino with an early selection headache ahead of the trip to the north east to face Newcastle United on August 11.
The former Southampton boss says some of those coming back late could feature in the season-opener if they can prove their fitness next week, but insists he will not be taking any chances.
He said: “First we need to assess them on Monday and see what happens. Maybe some players look after themselves and they’ve been training, maybe others rest, we need to see and, of course, we are not going to take risks if some players are not ready to compete, to play, they are not going to be involved at the weekend. That is so, so clear.
“I make clear today the statement that if someone is not ready, he’s not going to be involved because we are not going to take risks.”
“That is the reality that is for us is a massive challenge because for us it never happened before and we need to be careful.”
Pochettino was speaking after watching his Tottenham side round off their US tour with a 1-0 victory over AC Milan on Tuesday night.