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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

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Dembele avoids hip op, eyes derby return

Tottenham Hotspur have been boosted by the news midfielder Mousa Dembele will not require surgery on his injured hip and could be back to face Arsenal next weekend.

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Dembele, 25, has been missing for five matches after he aggravated an old problem while on international duty with Belgium last month.

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas had feared the former Fulham star would require an operation that would sideline him for six more weeks, but Dembele has now been informed he will not need to go under the knife. He could make the North London derby on November 17.

Dembele still faces a course of physiotherapy and he will definitely miss Thursday's Europa League clash with Maribor and this weekend's Premier League trip to Manchester City.

"We could either give him surgery immediately, but there is no certainty it will cure the problem, or he could rest, have manual therapy, train in the swimming pool," Villas-Boas said. "That allows the player the possibility of return within 10-15 days, so we are taking that option at the moment, without having the surgery.''

Dembele's absence has coincided with a run of just one Spurs victory in five matches, but despite Tom Huddlestone appearing to struggle to fill the void, Villas-Boas believes his side have coped well without their Belgium midfielder.

"We had good games without Mousa,'' Villas-Boas said. "Against Chelsea we lost Gareth Bale and Mousa and we gave them a run for their money even though they were on an amazing run.

"We had extremely good games against Southampton and Norwich. Good players are missed but this squad is full of good players. I don't think it has affected the tempo and dynamic - it's more important to have players fully concentrated and motivated.''

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