Tottenham will have to continue on the rest of their Premier League title campaign without key man Dele Alli up front as the Englishman is banned for three games under a violent conduct charge.
Alli, who became 20 recently, admitted to the charge after television cameras recorded clearly that he punched West Brom player Claudio Yacob in the stomach, but contested that the standard three-match penalty as “clearly excessive”.
The claim had since been rejected by the Football Association.
The incident, which had occurred in the 26th minute in White Hart Lane has escaped referee Mike Jones’s notice and was not included in the match official report.
But an independent panel consisting of three retired referees had subsequently reviewed footage of the incident and banned Alli, who was crowned Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year just a day before.
His next competitive match will be England’s Euro 2016 opener against Russia in Marseille on 11 June, if England coach Roy Hodgson chooses to include him in the squad.
Since his sentence, Dele Alli expressed regret and vowed to learn for the incident.
“Gutted that my season is over,” Alli tweeted. “Shouldn’t have reacted like I did. Will learn from this and come back stronger.”
Alli has been a hugely influential figure in his debut season for Tottenham, scoring 10 goals so far and forming an impressive partnership with striker Harry Kane.
But his team, siting at second-placed are seven points adrift of Leicester with three games left. Their campaign is in clear and present danger as the Foxes can win the title for good this weekend with victory at Old Trafford.
Even if Leicester fails to win, Tottenham needs every win in the rest of their three games. The match-ups are also considerably tricky as they battle Chelsea and Newcastle away from home, the latter of which is desperately in need of points to escape the relegation zone.