LONDON Tottenham Hotspur left back Danny Rose could be back sooner than expected with manager Mauricio Pochettino offering an upbeat assessment of his knee injury on Thursday.
The Premier League title challengers, who face Liverpool away on Saturday, could also have central defender Jan Vertonghen back in training as early as next week after the Belgian's continued recovery from an ankle injury.
England international Rose, an integral part of a Tottenham defence which has conceded only 16 league goals this season, limped off in the 0-0 draw at Sunderland last week and early reports suggested he faced a lengthy layoff.
"I am not a doctor but he is very positive, he is happy," Pochettino told reporters at Tottenham's training ground.
"I was talking to him this morning and we are happy after he received the (report) for the specialist. It's not a big issue, it's a small problem and we will see.
"We hope that as soon as possible he can be available again. The most important thing is he is very optimistic."
Vertonghen has been out for nearly a month since rolling his ankle in the 4-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion.
"Maybe next week he will be available again to start to work with the team. We are positive and optimistic," Pochettino, whose team are second, nine points behind Chelsea, said.
Tottenham have the chance to trim Chelsea's lead to six points at Anfield on Saturday evening with the leaders not in action until facing Burnley on Sunday.
The north London club have a miserable record at Liverpool, losing five and drawing three of their last eight league matches at Anfield.
Juergen Klopp's side are in a poor run of form, however, and have picked up only three points from the last 15 available, sliding down to fifth place in the table.
Tottenham could put seven points between them and Liverpool with a victory, although Pochettino is looking up rather than down.
Asked if it was a chance to knock Liverpool out of the title race for good, Pochettino said: "I'm thinking only of the top of the table. The important thing is to try to win the three points. The objective is to try to reduce the gap on Chelsea.
"But for that we need to be ready to fight because this is a very very difficult game. They are not in a good run but Liverpool have a very good players, one of the best squads, not only in England, but in Europe.
"They will be motivated because it's Tottenham."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)