Jose Mourinho says Tottenham wingers Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn should not be expected to excel in a central role, comparing the change in position to that of Kyle Walker playing in goal.
Spurs have lost both Harry Kane and Son Heung-min to injuries – although Mourinho is hopeful both could return ahead of schedule – and Moura and Bergwijn have consequently had to play as strikers.
Since Son suffered a fractured arm in his match-winning display at Aston Villa, Tottenham have lost at home to RB Leipzig in the Champions League and away at London rivals Chelsea in the Premier League.
Mourinho's side have scored just once across those two matches – an own goal by Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger at Stamford Bridge – yet the Tottenham head coach is not blaming his players.
He considers the issue to be similar to a scenario earlier in the season when Manchester City had to briefly field right-back Walker as a makeshift goalkeeper against Atalanta in the Champions League after Ederson was injured and back-up Claudio Bravo had been sent off.
"[It is difficult] if you ask somebody to do something that he's not used to doing, that he never learned how to do, and he is not a specialist at doing it," Mourinho told reporters ahead of Sunday's clash with Wolves.
"It's a bit like when some goalkeeper gets a red card and you play a player in goal, like Kyle Walker did with Manchester City.
Disappointed with the result, but it’s not the end. We have to give all in the return. Thank you for the support, would love to see that same energy in the second leg! #coys @SpursOfficial pic.twitter.com/PzoDZzi8ZP— Steven Bergwijn (@StevenBergwijn) February 20, 2020
"You don't expect Kyle Walker to make a phenomenal save and grab the ball and be tactically perfect."
But Mourinho is hopeful Moura and Bergwijn can learn on the job and benefit in the long term.
"You can always learn and, in this job, I think the accumulation of experiences are only making you better," he said. "With the players, it's a little bit of the same.
"For Lucas, for Bergwijn, for these wingers to be playing the way they are playing and [are] probably going to play until the end of the season, it's going to make them better players when they come to the inside.
"They are normally external players - they normally play in the corridor. In this moment, they are learning with the difficulties, they are learning how to play inside.
"So, I think they are going to be better wingers in the future because then they can mix their game in the corridor and their game when they come to the central areas. It's an accumulation of experience."Published 29 Feb 2020, 05:44 IST