Spurs boss expects Jan Vertonghen to miss two months but backs Kevin Wimmer to step up
Mauricio Pochettino expects to be without Jan Vertonghen for two months but he is backing summer signing Kevin Wimmer to step up and be an effective replacement for the Belgian.
Vertonghen suffered knee ligament damage in the second half of Spurs’ 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace last weekend.
And, asked how long the centre-back is likely to be absent, Pochettino said: “Maybe two months. You never know about the injury, how his knee reacts and the process.
“Sometimes it’s possible to be back earlier, and sometimes it’s later. You can’t guess about the process because all bodies and injuries are different – similar but different.”
When Vertonghen limped off in the 75th minute at Selhust Park on Saturday he was replaced by Wimmer, who made his first appearance in the Premier League.
The 23-year-old is now set for a run in the team, and Pochettino believes Spurs have a very capable understudy.
“I think he’s like Vertonghen but younger,” said the head coach. “I think you can see he’s very calm, he has a very good left foot, he’s very strong and he’s a very nice person. I think he has a lot of attributes. He’s very young but that’s why we signed him and now maybe he has more facility to play.”
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When Wimmer agreed to join Spurs last May, arriving from German club Cologne for £4.3million, he might have hoped for more game time and opportunities than he has had so far.
The Austrian only played three times in the first half of the season, in the Capital One Cup and Europa League, with Toby Alderweireld and Vertonghen playing every minute of the Premier League campaign together until the finale of last weekend’s game at Palace, plus four of Tottenham’s six continental group games.
However, Wimmer has now had three outings this month – the two FA Cup ties against Leicester, followed by his substitute appearance at Selhurst Park – and Pochettino feels he is ready.
“This is a good example for when we rotate and play different players,” he said. “You never know when something can happen and now we are sure that Kevin can do well because he has had the facility to play in different games – not as much as maybe he expected but it was good that he has showed his quality, and for his team-mates to trust in him.
“He’s still very young but he’s showed his quality and that’s always important, because you never know when the problems arrive, and maybe the players that are not playing too much will be key players to achieve big things.
“Sometimes I understand that you and people in the media ask me why we rotate or why we don’t play with stronger teams [in some games].
“I think it’s always important to speak about the squad because if something wrong happens in the future - if you have the last five games in the Premier League and you are in a position to achieve big things - in this moment maybe you need help from the players that have not played too much, and always you need to show respect.
“If they deserve to play you need to give them the facility to play, like in this moment.”
Asked whether he has felt the need to speak to Wimmer at any stage this season, to reassure him about his decision to join Tottenham, Pochettino said: “No because always when we sign players, we always explain what we expect from them and the rules of the squad and the team. It’s normal that you are disappointed when you’re not playing but I think we are very clear.”
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