Spurs star ‘very unlikely’ to face Swansea but duo could finally return

Andre Villas-Boas says it is “very unlikely” that Gareth Bale will line up against Swansea on Sunday, but Scott Parker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto could feature as they complete their returns from long-term injury.

Bale has missed the last two games after suffering a hamstring injury against Fulham, while Michael Dawson limped out of the same game with the same problem.

Dawson is in line to return against the Swans at White Hart Lane – but Villas-Boas is loath to risk Bale and rush him back into action ahead of the busy festive schedule.

“Bale has trained aside with the physio, I think there is a minimum percentage [of a chance that he will play],” said Villas-Boas. “I’m not sure if it’s correct to risk it. We’ll have to assess him tomorrow, when he will train with the team. There is still a decision to be made but it’s very unlikely.

“Dawson has trained today with the team so I think he will complete two training sessions since his absence, so there is a possibility that he will be involved in the game.”

Parker is yet to appear for Tottenham under Villas-Boas due to an Achilles problem, and Assou-Ekotto only played in the first three games of the campaign before succumbing to a knee injury.

“Both of them are making good progress with the team,” said the head coach. “Obviously you have to bear in mind that their absence was long so they are picking up on their fitness levels. I think Scott is slightly ahead of Benoit at the moment, but with both of them you could see them being involved, or not.

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“Scott’s been out for so long and he’s such an important player for us. He was decisive last season. After his transfer he was amazing, so we’ve been really patient with the situation.

“We’re glad to have him back, it was wonderful to see him out there on the pitch. Certainly he offers other possibilities. It’s good to have him on our side and to finally count on him.”

Meanwhile, Villas-Boas has revealed that he and Bale have spoken to referee Andre Marriner about the Welshman’s growing reputation as a diver, following his fourth booking of 2012 for simulation in the recent victory at Fulham.

“We received the visit of the referee - there is always a Premier League visit during the season,” said Villas-Boas. “We have been delaying it for different reasons but we received him last week.

“We have spoken, me and Gareth, with the referee about this situation. I have told you before that Gareth has gone through a difficult time in his career.

“He has had potentially-career threatening injuries and sometimes for the pace that he goes at it looks like a dive from the player when he is actually protecting himself. He told me that.

“Whatever reputation he gains he just doesn’t try to do it - he avoids opponents’ tackles. With the pace that he approaches challenges it’s very difficult for referees to judge.

“It’s a tag that if he has gained it is unfair, but it doesn’t bother him in any way shape or form so we keep doing our job.”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs