Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho says the club's record signing Tanguy Ndombele asked to be omitted from their win over Brighton. but was not injured.
The France midfielder, who joined Spurs for £53.8m from Lyon in July, had recovered from a recent groin injury and played in the 2-0 loss to Chelsea.
But he was excluded altogether as Spurs renewed their push for a place in the top four against the Seagulls.
"He told me he was not feeling in condition to play," Mourinho said.
"I cannot say he is injured. In five minutes we start a training session [on the pitch after the game] and you can go to the stands and watch it. He is going to be training normally so I cannot say he is injured.
"Feeling not ready to start the game, but I cannot say he is injured, I can say he is not in condition to start the game, which is different.
"Not based on injuries, based on fears of previous injuries that he has had since the beginning of the season."
Ndombele's creativity and mobility were sorely missing at times, particularly during the first period, when Tottenham struggled to build any real pressure on the Brighton goal.
But they recovered in the second period, when Harry Kane and Dele Alli scored to wipe out Adam Webster's opener for the visitors.
Tottenham were 12 points off a top-four position when Mourinho took charge of his first game.
But five wins from seven league matches means a favourable result at bottom side Norwich on Saturday would see Spurs move above Chelsea into fourth - with the Blues scheduled to play at Arsenal on Sunday.
However, Mourinho remains wary of the festive schedule, which will see his side play four games in 11 days, with Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks and Son Heung-min all suspended for the third of those, at Carrow Road.
"I cannot imagine that these boys can play in less than 48 hours," he added.
"It is a crime that they are going to play football again in 48 hours. It's against every rule of physiology and biology."