Chris Coleman has told skipper Luis Boa Morte he must lead from the front when Fulham limp into White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Coleman’s midfield has been ravaged by injury with six players in the treatment room while winger Wayne Routledge is unavailable because of the terms of his loan deal from Tottenham.
With numbers heavily depleted, Coleman believes it is time for Boa Morte – who has yet to find his stride this season – to stand up and be counted.
“It could be the perfect week for him to shine against Tottenham and then with Chelsea coming next weekend,” said the Welshman.
“He’s a big player and he has to be there for the big games. I’m not saying he is the biggest player here, but he is the captain and he has to lead us.
“It is his time to shine because he is my captain. He has to be in the front line and has to lead the rest of the team.”
Spurs made an approach for Boa Morte in August but their valuation of the player fell substantially short of the fee Coleman wanted.
Coleman believes the transfer speculation unsettled the 29-year-old Portugal winger and, along with the World Cup, explains his slow start to the season.
“Boa was about £5million away from joining Tottenham in the summer. What they offered was nowhere near what we valued him at,” he said.
“We had no chance of replacing him for the fee they offered and the longer all the talk went on the price went up.
“Boa is linked to a move away from the club every time there is a transfer window. People are saying he is going to Tottenham or he is going to Newcastle.
“That speculation made it hard for Boa to concentrate. We have still not seen the best of Boa this season.
“He came back from the World Cup where he did not have a lot of rest, then there was all the hoo-ha about whether he was leaving or not in the August window.
“That made things hard for him and he has been chipping away and he will get there sooner rather than later.”
Boa Morte must shoulder more of the playmaking duties, with Jimmy Bullard facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines with knee-ligament damage.
Bullard travels to the United States on Monday to see the world’s top knee specialist Richard Steadman and his loss is a bitter blow to the club given his scintillating form.
Midfield enforcer Papa Bouba Diop – who is suffering from a thigh injury – will also be sorely missed, but Coleman insists his side’s morale remains intact for tomorrow’s capital derby.
“This time last week we only had a few niggling injuries to some of the other players who were not the main core of the team,” he said.
“Now, bingo, we have lost a player who was going to make a big difference for us this season in Jimmy Bullard.
“We have also lost Phillippe Christanval, Papa Bouba Diop and also Wayne Routledge is unavailable.
“But I am glad to be going into this game with the run we have had because we have a lot of confidence.”