Gareth Bale "might have a big say" against Chelsea, according to Glen Hoddle, who thinks Jose Mourinho is keeping the Tottenham star "up his sleeve" ahead of the London derby.
Bale has been gradually integrated into the first-team fold since returning to Spurs on a season-long loan from Real Madrid in September.
The 31-year-old has appeared in six games across all competitions in total to date, scoring once, but has yet to start a Premier League game under Mourinho.
The Wales international was an unused substitute as Tottenham picked up an impressive 2-0 home win over Manchester City on Saturday, with the likes of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Steven Bergwijn currently ahead of the winger in the squad pecking order.
Mourinho will be expected to hand Bale some minutes when his side resume their Europa League campaign against Ludogorets on Thursday, before his focus shifts to a huge clash against his former employers Chelsea three days later.
Spurs currently sit top of the Premier League, two points ahead of the Blues, and Hoddle believes the Portuguese head coach is saving the Madrid loanee for the occasion.
“I’ve got a sneaky feeling that Gareth Bale might have a big say in that game," the former Spurs manager said on his official podcast.
"I think Mourinho might be holding him up his sleeve. That’s the sort of game where you could just see him.
"He played 90 minutes for Wales, and you could see him turning it on in a game like that.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Mourinho hasn’t got him earmarked for Chelsea.”
Former Chelsea midfielder Craig Burley has added fuel to the rivalry between his old club and Tottenham by suggesting Frank Lampard has far greater strength in depth at his disposal than Mourinho, while also insisting the Blues have a better chance of sustaining a title challenge.
Burley told ESPN at the weekend: "I think Chelsea are a much more talented team than Spurs. Tottenham have a good squad but Chelsea have an unbelievable amount of attacking players.
"I just think Chelsea have better options [than Tottenham]. They’re in as good shape as they can be to mount a title challenge."