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Spurs boss admits it may be ‘a risk’ to pick Dembele and Dier at Middlesbrough

13:01 23 September 2016

Mousa Dembele (centre) in action against Sunderland on Sunday

Mousa Dembele (centre) in action against Sunderland on Sunday

EMPICS Sport

Mauricio Pochettino will today assess the fitness of Danny Rose, Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Middlesbrough – but he admits it might be “a risk” to select his midfield duo at the Riverside Stadium.

Rose has missed Spurs’ last four games after picking up a hamstring injury on England duty in the last international break, while Dier and Dembele were both withdrawn in the final 15 minutes of Sunday’s home win over Sunderland.

“We need to assess them today but they are working very well,” said Pochettino. “We’ll see because Eric, Mousa and Danny Rose are very close to being available. I need to assess them in the last training session today. If not this weekend maybe [they will be back] on Tuesday in the Champions League in Russia.

“It was a little bit more than cramp [for Dembele and Dier on Sunday] but it was a very small issue. They’re running, they’re working nearly at the same level as the healthy players.

“Now I need to decide whether we take a risk or not, or wait for the Champions League game in Moscow or against Manchester City [next Sunday] – but it’s sure they don’t spend more time [out] than that.”

Pochettino is also waiting to be given a timeframe for Harry Kane’s recovery and eventual return from his injury, after the striker suffered ankle ligament damage on Sunday.

“We are waiting for another scan next week and then we can assess it much better and know how his recovery will be,” said Tottenham’s manager. “It’s still swelling, the ankle, and we need to wait a few more days.

“Now we need to be positive, we cannot change the past. He’s very positive, he feels good, he’s in a good mood. That’s very important, to have all the energy and be focused on being available as soon as possible.”

The spotlight now falls on summer signing Vincent Janssen, who will deputise for Kane up front. But Pochettino said: “It’s not only his responsibility now, it’s always a team responsibility. He needs to feel free to play, to try to help the team now.

“It’s a big opportunity for him to show his skill and he needs to feel free to play, to enjoy the game, there is nothing to show.

“Always a striker needs to feel confident and feel the net and it was a good opportunity for him to score his first official goal for us [against Gillingham on Wednesday]. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. It’s a great opportunity for him to start tomorrow, maybe, and help the team.”

Kyle Walker today became the seventh player this month to sign a new contract with Tottenham and share what has become a familiar-looking photo with his manager.

Pochettino has also posed alongside Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Harry Winks, Tom Carroll and Danny Rose in the last three weeks – and he is aware that the similarity between the pictures has caused amusement on social media.

“I promise you in the next few days there will be another, and I will be wearing the same thing,” he said. “Maybe I will change. In the last one [with Walker] I was in a tracksuit, because the media talked too much about my suit, my position, but it’s ok.”

Pochettino will be making his first trip to the Riverside Stadium tomorrow, and he did his best to offer an insightful comment on Middlesbrough’s ground.

“It reminds me of Southampton a little bit – it’s red, and this style of stadium,” he said. “I think it will be great to know a new city, new stadium, new fans.”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs

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