Mauricio Pochettino reveals Toby Alderweireld’s latest injury and places Spurs ‘genius’ Mousa Dembele alongside Ronaldinho and Maradona
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The Spurs manager provides the latest on Toby Alderweireld, praises Mousa Dembele’s quality and reveals how close Lucas Moura is to starting on Sunday
Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld is a doubt for Sunday’s trip to Crystal Palace after pulling out of a training session.
The Belgium international has recently returned from a three-month absence after tearing his hamstring in November – an injury that forced him to miss 20 matches.
He has been eased back into action lately, facing League Two side Newport County and League One outfit Rochdale in the FA Cup. But he has experienced discomfort this week.
“Toby yesterday could not finish the training session,” said Pochettino. “He suffered a small incident in the same leg.
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“We’re going to assess him today and tomorrow and we’ll see if he’s available for training and if it’s possible for him to be selected for the weekend. But I think and hope it’s not a big issue.
“I don’t like to talk about injuries, only for caution. He didn’t finish the training session. It’s in the same leg but it’s in a different area.”
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Alderweireld’s setback comes at a time when he and Tottenham are involved in contract negotiations.
The 28-year-old’s deal expires in 2019 and, although Spurs have the option of extending it by a year, that would trigger a clause allowing rival clubs to sign him for £25million during a two-week window that summer.
Alderweireld is reportedly seeking a weekly wage of £150,000, which would make him easily the club’s highest-paid player and burst the Lilywhites’ wage structure.
Pochettino remained tight-lipped on the subject when asked about it at his press conference on Friday.
“I’m not involved in negotiations,” he said. “I never talk about rumours, what the media says or what happens around the club. It’s not my job and I cannot say anything about that.”
Pochettino was rather happier to discuss one of his other Belgian players, however. Mousa Dembele has returned to top form and has been a key figure in Spurs’ victories over Manchester United and Arsenal, and their draws against Liverpool and Juventus.
“I told you he was a genius - for me he’s this type of player,” said Pochettino. “I put him next to Ronaldinho, Maradona, [Jay-Jay] Okocha - players I’ve been lucky enough to play with.
“For me he’s one of the unbelievable talents in the history of football. For him it was always difficult to be fit – he’s always fighting for his fitness – but now he’s in an amazing moment and he deserves all the praise people are giving him.”
January signing Lucas Moura is targeting his first Premier League start for Spurs, having scored on his full debut against Rochdale in the FA Cup last weekend, but Pochettino has suggested the Brazilian may have to wait a little longer for that.
“We need to assess him too because he played 70 minutes [against Rochdale] after a long period when he didn’t play,” said the Spurs manager. “We have nearly everyone fit, 24 players in a position to be selected, and we need to assess everyone and then pick 18 players to play against Palace on Sunday.”
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