Mauricio Pochettino reveals Toby Alderweireld could feature for Spurs in FA Cup quarter-final at Swansea City
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Harry Winks may play at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, but Tottenham Hotspur will have to cope without Harry Kane
Tottenham Hotspur’s Toby Alderweireld has returned to training and could face Swansea City in Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final.
The Belgian missed three months of the season between November and February after tearing his hamstring and, although he then played in two FA Cup ties against Newport County and Rochdale, he felt further discomfort last month and had to head back to the treatment room.
The 29-year-old has since missed another five matches, but he could line up in the rearguard at the Liberty Stadium this weekend.
“He was back in training on Tuesday with the team,” said Pochettino. “I still haven’t decided if he will be involved or not in the trip to Swansea.”
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Harry Winks could also return to the starting line-up, having been unable to earn a place in the squad for the last three matches.
An ankle injury, suffered in November, has disrupted his season and his last three appearances have come in the FA Cup.
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“Of course it’s tough for him because he still doesn’t feel in the way he needs to feel,” said Pochettino. “We’re trying to help him to feel perfectly. It’s a little bit sad because he tries and we try to help. But I think we’re going to fix the problem.
“Of course he’s not in his best mood. But it’s sure that with the help of the whole coaching staff, we’re going to help him to achieve again the same level, how he felt before the problem.
“It’s not only confidence, it’s because he feels something in his ankle so he cannot express himself in the way that he can.”
Spurs will be without Harry Kane at Swansea after the striker suffered an ankle injury of his own against Bournemouth on Sunday.
But Pochettino, who hailed the striker’s bravery, is confident his side have enough strength in depth and quality to cope in the meantime.
“He’s a warrior,” said Pochettino. “He put his leg in the washing machine for the team to try to score - against Sunderland, Millwall and now, because he’s so brave.
“Maybe another player says ‘I’m not going to take a risk’, but he’s a warrior. That’s why Harry Kane is Harry Kane.
“Will he play again this season? Yes, of course. The first step is to be fully recovered from his injury, then try to, like all the process, build his fitness. We’ll see if it’s two weeks or three weeks. I don’t know.
“Of course, it’s not a long-term injury and it’s easier to keep your form, and that helps you to be fit quicker when you fix your problem.
“We’re happy because he’s so positive and when you see a positive player it always helps us too, to believe he can be ready again to compete as soon as possible.”
Pochettino continued: “We’re talking about one of the best strikers in the world. You cannot compare with others. But of course we have different characteristics in the team.
“We are going to miss Harry because it’s obvious he’s one of the best. But in the same way we’re calm and relaxed, because we have quality enough to play and win games.
“We have different players that can play in that position - Dele Alli, [Erik] Lamela, [Heung-Min] Son, [Fernando] Llorente, Lucas Moura.
“For me the most important thing is how you’re going to use the space in every single game, trying to defeat the different tactics that the opponent is going to use.
“Now I need to be right, picking what is going to be the best for every single game when Harry is out.”
It has been 10 years since Tottenham last won a trophy – the League Cup in 2008 – and there is a perception in some quarters that Pochettino needs to deliver silverware to underline the club’s progress under his watch.
“That is opinions that you need to respect,” said the manager. “I think the people that is telling that, it’s because they feel maybe the frustration from outside, because Tottenham in the last few years show unbelievable quality, play good football.
“I think everyone enjoys it every time they watch the team play, and sometimes they feel sad for us – not only our fans but fans from other teams. It’s sure Arsenal fans, no, but…
“People that understand football very well know that this is a very exciting project because we’re not a club that are going to buy trophies, we are a club that’s going to deserve trophies.
“That, for me, is why people show frustration, because they think we deserve trophies that we do not achieve. That is part of the process.
“The players are happy. The worst thing in life is to compare with others, and we need to compare Tottenham with Tottenham.
“The players need to feel very proud about all they’re doing, and everyone in the club is the same. We know the reality and we need to feel proud because the way we’re competing in the last few years is a thing to be proud of.”
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