Tottenham fixture pile-up leaves Mauricio Pochettino with shortage as Toby Alderweireld adds to injury list

Pochettino was forced to rest Danny Rose and Son Heung-min while Alderweireld was carried off on a stretcher in the 1-1 draw with West Brom

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Much has been made of Mauricio Pochettino's tactical approach as Tottenham Hotspur challenge for the Premier League title, but in the next few weeks simply getting eleven fit players on the field may be his biggest achievement. After an international break in which many Spurs players were exhausting themselves on behalf of their countries, a sequence of seven matches in 23 days began with an excellent performance but a disappointing 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, and a key player injured ahead of the Champions League game away to Bayer Leverkusen tomorrow.

Toby Alderweireld, the Belgium central defender, left the pitch at The Hawthorns on a stretcher with knee and leg injuries, offering an unexpected way back into the team for Eric Dier, benched on Saturday after failing to reach last season's standards in his holding midfield role.

“The good thing about Eric is he can play like a midfielder, a centre-back and a full-back,” Pochettino said. “It is one option more that we have. But now we need to wait because maybe [Alderweireld's injury] is not a big issue. We need to be quiet, calm and assess him.”

That calm assessment had already led Pochettino to juggle his team at West Bromwich, deeming Son Heung-Min too tired to start after playing for Korea in Iran and leaving Danny Rose out altogether. “It wasn't in the plan [for Rose] to play two games with the [England] national team,” Pochettino said. “But because [Ryan] Bertrand was injured he had to play two games. We don't want to take risks. I think this is too much for a player coming back from injury to play two games in one week.”

That suggests strongly that Pochettino will take the same cautious approach when Harry Kane, whose composure in front of goal might have made the difference on Saturday, returns from an ankle injury, even though the temptation to have such a natural goalscorer back in the team will be strong.

“Harry Kane, you know and we know, is a very important player for us,” Pochettino said. “But it is all about the collective and I am happy with the way that the other players played in his position. Always it is important to be all fit and have 25 players. Hopefully as soon as possible we can recover him and the team will get stronger. The Champions League game on Tuesday is too soon for him but maybe Monday he will start to train on the pitch.”

 


Pochettino may be happy with his forward options, but Vincent Janssen does not carry Kane's threat in front of goal. Not that it looked as if anyone would beat Ben Foster, the Albion and former England goalkeeper until Dele Alli's clever finish in the 89th minute. “When we are playing as well as we did today, when we dominated from the start, it is important that when we get chances we are clinical even if the keeper is playing well,” Alli said. “The one-on-one where I went through I should have put it away and it would have been a different game.”

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