Tottenham have shut the indoor facilities at their training ground after a virus struck the club's staff, leaving two key players battling to be fit for Sunday's Premier League match with Everton. Croatia defender Vedran Corluka and Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios have been taken ill and face a race against time to recover ahead of the weekend's encounter against the in-form Toffees.
The mystery bug has triggered painful memories of 2006 when several Spurs players went down with food poisoning on the eve of the final Premier League game of the season against West Ham. Tottenham lost that match 2-1, missing out on a top four finish and a place in Europe's elite Champions League.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp said his squad has been banned from using the indoor facilities at their training ground in nearby Essex, east of London, simply as a precautionary measure. "We had a few down with it the other day. Corluka had the virus and Palacios was not feeling great with it either," Redknapp said.
"It has swept through the Academy. There are about 18 who work there or the kids who have all got it, so the doctor decided we couldn't use it," he continued. "It hasn't disrupted us. We are still training as normal and hopefully no-one else gets it, but there have been so many other people who have gone down with it ... it is certainly spreading."
Spurs already have a number of fitness concerns with Aaron Lennon sidelined with a groin strain and Ledley King out with a thigh problem. Strikers Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch are both minor doubts after picking up slight knocks. Lennon has already seen a specialist and may require an operation to solve his groin problem, leaving him as a major doubt for England's World Cup campaign in June.
"Surgery would be the last resort but hopefully we won't need that," Redknapp said. "We hope with rest and strengthening we can get him back fit. We need him back, he's important to me and is a fantastic player but he's not available so there's nothing we can do."