Nabil Bentaleb will get his chance to fight for a spot, says Spurs boss Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino admits Nabil Bentaleb has fallen down the pecking order at Tottenham but insists he has a “very good relationship” with the Algerian and that the 21-year-old will get his chance to play.
Bentaleb, who played at the 2014 World Cup and signed a five-year contract in the summer, has only made two substitute appearances since returning from an ankle injury in December.
Pochettino said: “From the beginning [of the season] he had a [injury] problem. He missed 17 or 18 games with injury and the team has grown up. Different players have had the chance to play and show their quality, like Eric Dier or Mousa Dembele or Tom Carroll. We have a lot of players in midfield.
“But we keep a very good relationship between Nabil and us and, if he works like he has done in the last few weeks, he will always have the facility to play and show his real qualities. I think it’s only about time to show again that he deserves to play. It’s always about football decisions and performance.”
Bentaleb will be hoping for a rare start when Spurs visit Leicester City in tomorrow’s (Wednesday’s) FA Cup third round replay – and Pochettino admits he is likely to rotate his squad.
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“For us, maybe we mix because we have some players in a condition that is a big risk, and we have a lot of games ahead,” he said. “We assess the players and maybe we take some decisions to rest some players for tomorrow.
“It’s a clear message for our supporters: tomorrow it’s Leicester against Tottenham, it’s not 11 players against 11 players and different names.
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“When you’re at Tottenham and Leicester in this case we need to show respect for all the squad. It’s about the clubs and squads playing each other. If not we need to change the rules and only have the capacity to sign 11 players and have no youngsters in the Under-21s and have no senior players on the bench or in the squad.
“A squad is 24 or 25 players and all are capable of playing in different games. But for me tomorrow it’s not an excuse. My selection for tomorrow is to try to win and go to the next round. If we fail, we fail but it’s not an excuse. We need to show we are better than Leicester and win the game, whether one player plays or another.”
Meanwhile, Pochettino was pleased to see Christian Eriksen scoring twice in Saturday’s home win over Sunderland in the Premier League, following a spell when the Dane had been in poor form.
“I think it was good for him to score in the last game. It’s important because he’s one of the best players that we have,” said the head coach. “He’s a talented player and it’s good that he recovered the feeling of scoring. It’s always important for the player.
“He’s still very young and sometimes has ups and downs but there are no doubts about Christian and his qualities. It’s only some periods that you are not at your best. He’s shown his qualities and I think he’s one of the best players in England.”
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