Jose Mourinho said that Gareth Bale's half-time substitution in Tottenham's Carabao Cup quarter-final win over Stoke City was not a tactical choice, revealing that the Welshman removed himself amid fears of a potential injury.
The talismanic forward, who returned to the club to much fanfare on loan from Real Madrid earlier this year, opened the scoring in Spurs' 3-1 win over the Potters on a wintery Wednesday evening.
The 31-year-old turned Harry Winks' cross in at the right post just after the 20-minute mark, but was forced to watch his side fend off a second-half comeback from the bench after he was replaced at the interval.
With Bale having imposed himself upon the game in arguably one of his better performances since he rejoined the Lilywhites, his absence in place of Son Heung-min was initially felt at the bet365 Stadium, before Ben Davies and Harry Kane ensured progression through to the semi-finals.
Speaking in his post-match press conference however, Mourinho stated that the former Southampton man's limited appearance was not pre-planned, adding that the player elected to pull himself from returning after feeling a potential problem.
"It was his decision," the Portuguese said. "[It was] something he felt. He told me immediately when walking to the dressing room [at half-time]."
Speaking to Sky Sports, Mourinho added: "I cannot say what, I cannot say the dimension of it. Now it is time for the medical department and I will try to know."
Bale was making only his second domestic start of the season, having returned to north London during a rehabilitation period for an existing knee problem.
While he has featured in every one of his side's Europa League encounters to date, he has been afforded limited chances elsewhere owing to a combination of his recovery process and a bout of illness.
Regardless, Spurs will hope that he will be set for only a short lay-off as he gradually continues to work his way back to full fitness.
Tottenham next face a trip to Wolves on December 27, before they host relegation-embroiled Fulham three days later. They begin 2021 at home to Leeds on January 2.