Tottenham’s hopes of playing at the new White Hart Lane this season appear to be fading after Mauricio Pochettino admitted it would be “tough” for them to move in by May.

The move has been fraught with delays and experienced its latest setback on Thursday when the club confirmed the derby with Arsenal, scheduled for 2 March, would be played at Wembley. Repeated journeys to the national stadium, where they host Leicester on Sunday, have worn thin with Spurs fans this season. Only 29,164 attended last month’s win over Watford in the Premier League but with only five home fixtures remaining after the Arsenal game it appears Pochettino is bracing himself for an extension of the status quo.

“My gut feeling [is that] it will be tough, but I hope and I wish to be in the new stadium,” he said. “I don’t want to think too much. My wish is to play at the new stadium before the end of the season. We’ll see what happens. We’ll see if you can trust more in my gut or the capacity to finish the stadium before the end of the season.

“Of course the people are going to be disappointed to play at Wembley, not because they don’t like Wembley – we all love Wembley – but because we expect to already be playing in our new stadium. That’s why it’s going to be massive to play the last five Premier League games in our new stadium. I hope that happens, I believe it can be very positive to move to the new stadium.”

This week the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, described the next few weeks as “pivotal” to their prospects of moving during the season. Another complicating factor is that the club must hold two test events to confirm the venue’s viability before any competitive first-team fixture is held, and time looks exceedingly tight.