Mauricio Pochettino said his squad players were playing for their "long-term" futures before Tottenham's FA Cup fourth-round match against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday and, after they scraped out a last-gasp 4-3 win, he added: "If you cannot play in this type of game, we will have a problem."
The Spurs manager has since backtracked, insisting he trusts his entire squad, but some of his second string may have sealed their fate with shoddy showings against the Chairboys.
ESPN FC names Saturday's starters who are facing uncertain futures at Tottenham:
The winger was recommended by outgoing head of recruitment Paul Mitchell and it's hard to avoid the suspicion that Pochettino doesn't rate him. He cost nearly £10 million and has started just two games, including Saturday, when he was hauled off at half-time with Spurs 2-0 down, albeit with a knock.
Last month, Pochettino was given several chances to talk up the 21-year-old but said only: "We'll see, we'll see. Now is not the time to assess him. We cannot be unfair with Nkoudou because it's difficult to assess him so early. We need to give him more time and he needs to show his real quality and build his confidence."
Verdict: Nkoudou was signed to replace Clinton Njie, who returned to France on loan after one season at Spurs, and he faces the same fate.
Sissoko was signed for £30m to give Spurs speed and directness but 16-stone (102kg) Adebayo Akinfenwa's final act before being substituted, exhausted, on Saturday was to track and tackle the Frenchman. Only Sissoko's first touch looked heavier than the Wycombe striker on Saturday.
He has shown flashes of form but faced public criticism from Pochettino and a three-match ban by the Football Association. Spurs gambled that his lack of interest at Newcastle United was down to circumstance and not his personality. So far, it's not paying off.
Verdict: Chairman Daniel Levy does not like to lose money on players, so the club may struggle to shift Sissoko, unless he fancies a move to China.
Onomah is only 19 and he has often been talked up by Pochettino. He has had plenty of opportunities, though, and never looked much more than OK. On Saturday, the game passed him by and he was hooked on the hour, looking glum. With Erik Lamela returning and teenage prodigy Marcus Edwards fit again, it may be a while before he is given another opportunity.
A loan, where he could play centrally, seems sensible but earlier this month Pochettino ruled it out, saying: "It's clear that Josh is a potential first-team player. The way to improve is training with us and trying to show us that he deserves to be involved. In that moment, you can be sure that we will give him the opportunity to play and show his quality. So we are not thinking about selling or loaning him out."
Verdict: Onomah is promising and he deserves a chance in his favourite position, centrally, before making a call on his future.
Pochettino considered selling Wimmer in the summer, sources told ESPN FC in August, but injuries to Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, and a switch to a back three have forced the manager to use him. Wimmer has been shaky -- far more so than when he deputised last season -- and he was replaced at half-time in the 2-2 draw at Man City after a poor first half. Against Wycombe, he was again out-of-sorts and he is quickly running out of chances.
Verdict: Spurs should consider upgrading on Wimmer in the summer. Cameron Carter-Vickers, 19, is already close to usurping him as fourth-choice centre-back.
Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier
Davies and Trippier are good Premier League players but they are light-years away from Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, Spurs' first choice full-backs. What to do? Stick or twist? Both could probably be first choice at any club outside the top six and Spurs could make a profit on them. Given the importance Pochettino places on the full-backs, it's essential to have options, though.
Verdict: Spurs should keep both of them but consider signing a promising young left-back, like Fulham's 16-year-old phenom Ryan Sessegnon, and hope him and academy right-back Kyle Walker-Peters can get closer to the superb level of Walker and Rose in future.