LONDON -- Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld has declared himself ready for another battle of wits with Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after returning from the longest injury absence of his career.
Alderweireld completed 90 minutes on his first appearance since Nov. 1 in Spurs' 2-0 win over Newport County in the FA Cup fourth-round replay on Wednesday.
Mauricio Pochettino, the Spurs manager, will assess the centre-back on Friday ahead of picking his XI for Saturday's North London derby, where Spurs will face an Arsenal side rejuvenated by the arrival of £56 million Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund.
Alderweireld shackled the Gabonese in Spurs' 3-1 win over Dortmund in the Champions League in September, but he also faced the forward twice in the Europa League round-of-16 in March 2016, when Aubameyang scored three times over two legs as Dortmund thrashed Spurs 5-1 on aggregate.
"Like everyone knows, he's very quick, he's a good finisher. He has it all," Alderweireld said. "He is in a good moment now as well so it's going to be very difficult to beat him but I think we will be ready for it.
"You have to work your mind. One against one, on the same line, he will beat you, so you have to be very clever, you have to read the situation and try to beat him with your head.
"But I feel very good after 90 minutes [against Newport]. I worked very hard to play those kind of games and be ready."
Alderweireld pulled up in the 3-1 victory over Real Madrid and scans revealed he had torn both the muscle and tendon in his right hamstring. After Arsenal's visit to Wembley, Spurs travel to Turin for the Champions League round-of-16 first leg against Juventus on Tuesday, and the defender says he always had this crucial period in mind for a return.
"That was a goal in my head," he said. "It was a difficult period mentally but if you have a goal in your head, that's what you work towards every day.
"It is up to the manager now to decide who he needs but you have to have a personal goal to try to come back as quick as possible.
"It was a proper hamstring injury and the risk of re-tearing it was very big," he explained. "That why we took our time and worked very hard so my muscles are ready for this type of game and to play a lot of games again.
"It was a difficult period for me. On the other hand, it was three months. In a football career, it's not that long. I'm 28 and I'm lucky I've never had a knee injury or something, which would be a lot worse.
"Three months is difficult but we worked very hard to get to this point. It could have been even longer but because we worked hard, were very clever, doing the right things, I'm back playing. We did the right things -- we didn't start too early, trained a lot of weeks [before playing], so the muscle is ready to compete.
"It was the longest ever [layoff of my career]. It was a little bit unfortunate there was a tear in the tendon, not only the muscle. It just takes time. We had to do that time and work very hard.
"I think we are in a good way especially at Wembley where we are very strong," he added. "We are so confident."