Mauricio Pochettino is planning to be without NINE first-teamers for Tottenham’s opening TWO Premier League matches.
The Spurs boss concedes it is “almost impossible” for his stars who made the World Cup semi-finals to be fit in time.
England heroes Harry Kane and Dele Alli have already resumed training in a bid to be ready for Saturday’s opener at Newcastle.
The pair will be joined at the club’s Enfield HQ today by England pals Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier and Danny Rose, Belgium trio Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele — and triumphant skipper Hugo Lloris , who led France to glory.
It is just three weeks and one day since the World Cup finished.
And Pochettino revealed it may not just be the trip to Toon that they miss — he may leave them out against Fulham at Wembley the following week.
The Spurs boss does not want to risk his stars getting injured by rushing them back so soon after their heroics at Russia 2018.
He said: “It would be better for these players to miss the first one or two games than to play and end up getting injured and missing more games further down the line.
“It’s a massive challenge for these players to get fit in time for the Newcastle game. Almost impossible.
“If we feel it is too much of a risk to play these players then, no matter how much work they have been doing, we will not play them.
Jan Vertonghen is another player who had a busy summer with Belgium, playing right up until the 3rd place play-off “Simple as that.”
While Poch was watching his young Tottenham team getting thrashed 4-1 at Spanish side Girona on Saturday in their final friendly before the start of the season, Kane was back in training at Enfield — two days ahead of schedule.
And this came after his pal Dele published a picture of himself online training while on holiday.
Pochettino joked that he was almost moved to tears when he saw the post.
The Spurs boss added: “I messaged him, saying he was showing great commitment. He said ‘Gaffer, I want to be ready for Newcastle’.
“I told him ‘Thank you, but you need to rest because 20 days off is the minimum time to have off at the end of a season to ensure a full recovery’.
“It shows great commitment, but we will assess all of the returning players on Monday — and we will not be taking any risks.
“It is going to be a long season and we need to ensure that the players have had the right amount of recovery before starting it.”
Kane, who won the Golden Boot with six goals in Russia, was put through his paces with team-mates Christian Eriksen and Davinson Sanchez.
The Denmark ace and the Colombian defender went on Spurs’ pre-season tour of the US last month after appearing at the World Cup.
But they were left out of the squad for Girona so they could do extra fitness work.
Former Espanyol, Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina defender Pochettino, 46, says stars now return to pre-season in far better shape than he did as a player.
He added: “I was a disaster. I always came back unfit. That’s because every close season I would return to Argentina to see my family and my mum just wanted to feed me lots.
“So when I went back for pre-season I could hardly run and the coaches had to push me around the training pitch!”
SPURS (possible team v Newcastle): Vorm, Aurier, Sanchez, Davies, Walker-Peters, N’Koudou, Amos, Eriksen, Son, Moura, Llorente.