Pochettino: Spurs prodigy Dele Alli must be protected as he adjusts to ‘new reality’

Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham prodigy Dele Alli must be protected as he adjusts to “his new reality”.

The 19-year-old midfielder has made a stunning start to life as a Premier League footballer, having only taken the step up from League One in August, and he marked his first start for England with a 25-yard goal against France at Wembley on Tuesday, while earning the man of the match award.

While Pochettino is delighted to see Alli’s rapid progress, he is keen to keep the growing hype under control.

“I think we need to be careful with him because a lot of things have changed with him now, in his new reality,” said Spurs’ head coach. “We need to protect him.

“It’s impossible to stop all of that around him but we need to protect him to try to make sure he keeps his feet on the ground so he can keep developing his potential.”

Asked if Alli could already be in line for a new contract, Pochettino replied: “Step by step. If you deserve it, in the end the club always gives you all that you deserve.”

With 21-year-old Eric Dier also making his full England debut on Tuesday, playing alongside Alli as well as 22-year-old Spurs striker Harry Kane, Pochettino has deservedly been getting plaudits for his work in developing young homegrown talent.

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Indeed, nine of England’s last 16 debutants have been nurtured by the Argentine at Southampton or Tottenham.

But Pochettino is keen to share the praise and, speaking at today’s (Friday’s) press conference, he was also anxious to highlight the contribution of Tottenham’s senior and foreign players.

“The players deserve the full credit because it’s up to them to take the tools that we provide,” said Pochettino. “It’s always about a philosophy, not one person – a team, a club.

“First it was Southampton, now I think we have to praise the players and then the staff and the chairman because he believes in this project and a year and a half ago he turned the club and put it in this way.

“Our responsibility is firstly to provide the club where you work with an identity and a good balance. Maybe today everyone’s speaking about the English players that we have at Tottenham, but to be fair we have very good players from outside too and they deserve the full credit too – like Hugo [Lloris], like [Jan] Vertonghen, [Heung-Min] Son, [Erik] Lamela, [Nacer] Chadli, [Christian] Eriksen, [Mousa] Dembele and all of them.

“We always speak about balance because the younger players need the senior players to feel confidence on the pitch. For me, football is about balance, not only on the pitch but in the dressing room.

“We have 25 or 26 players, we have a very good balance between them and we give full credit to them for all that has happened at Tottenham in the last few months – to the captain, Hugo, and the people that come from outside.

“I think it’s very important to provide an identity because we are an English team but the balance from the people that come in from outside, that feel the same, [is very important].”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs

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