Spurs boss Pochettino: Wycombe Wanderers will be approaching this FA Cup tie like the World Cup final
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Mauricio Pochettino has warned his Tottenham players that Wycombe Wanderers will be approaching Saturday’s fourth-round FA Cup tie like the World Cup final.
Gareth Ainsworth’s League Two outfit head to White Hart Lane eyeing a giant-killing, and Spurs’ manager says his side must resist any sense of complacency.
“Always it’s difficult. I think the beauty of the FA Cup is that the clubs like in League Two like Wycombe believe they can beat us,” said Pochettino.
“That’s how the FA Cup is and the belief that it gives the teams is massive. We know the striker (Adebayo Akinfenwa) and we know Dominic Gape, the holding midfielder who played with us when he was very young at Southampton.
“We have some references and always it’s up to us because if we are ready to compete it’s sure we go to the next round. But you know it’s always important to take this type of game seriously and be ready to compete.
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“When you play 11 v 11 and for them it’s the World Cup final, maybe the most important game in their history, we need to stay at a very good level - more than physical, a mental level – to compete. That is the key for us on Saturday.”
Asked whether Spurs have made special provision for Akinfenwa, who is known as The Beast due to his heavy build, Pochettino said: “No not special.
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“You know in the end you need to have some precautions with a player like him, but I think in the Premier League you can meet different teams or players like him. It’s true he’s a good player - a strong player, big - and we need to be strong.”
Pochettino is expected to field a second-string side against Wycombe, and he has announced that Harry Kane, Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose are all out of action anyway, in addition to the longer-term absentees Erik Lamela and Jan Vertonghen.
“In the second half against Manchester City it was a small problem [for Harry],” said Pochettino. “I think Saturday is not a moment to take a risk. He was training in Barcelona next to the group, but we hope that for Tuesday [at Sunderland] it’s not a problem.
“With Toby, we hope for Sunderland too. It’s sure for Saturday it’s a no, but he’s working hard. It was more of a precaution [that he came off in Manchester]. It wasn’t an injury because the scan showed no issues. Only it’s now to build his fitness.”
There is excitement at Tottenham about the potential of 18-year-old midfielder Marcus Edwards, who made his first-team debut earlier this season as a substitute in a League Cup against Gillingham.
However, Edwards was out of action when Spurs took on Aston Villa in the third round of the FA Cup – and it remains unclear whether he will considered for selection against Wycombe.
“Today was his first training session with the group and we’ll see,” said Pochettino. “We need to see him tomorrow and then decide. It’s true he’s a little bit far to the level of the group. Now he needs to build his fitness to achieve the same level of the whole group.”
Tottenham will also assess Lamela tomorrow when the Argentinian returns from his spell in Italy.
The 24-year-old has been sidelined by a hip injury for over three months, and earlier in January he elected to leave England and spend some time with his former club Roma in a bid to get a change of scenery and speed up his recovery.
Reports this week suggested that Lamela is homesick and might consider a move away from Tottenham, but he took to Twitter to insist he is simply recovering from injury and is “missing White Hart Lane every minute”.
“Tomorrow we will expect that he will be back here, and in that moment that he arrives we will assess him and try to see how he is,” said Pochettino.
“The last scan in Roma showed no issues. There’s still pain in his hip joint but now I think it’s important to meet us and stay here with the group with us, and try to push him to build his fitness, to help him to achieve the level of the team and be available as soon as possible.
“I think there’s a lot of rumours. He asked to go to Rome to try to change the place and maybe inspire him to recover quickly, but you cannot control all the rumours and you never know where they come from.
“He’s very happy, we keep in touch every day. Maybe he was a little bit worried about some comments and that’s why he expressed the feelings in that moment via social media. But he’s very happy, he’s very focused.
“He’s suffered a lot because he likes to play football and enjoys being on the pitch with the ball, and I think all the rumours don’t help him in the end. But we try to advise him on only being focused on recovering as soon as possible and forgetting all that happens around.”
Meanwhile, there is less than a week until the winter transfer window closes – but Pochettino has reiterated that he is not expecting any additions before the 11pm deadline on Tuesday.
“I told you from the first day of January that we are not thinking to sign player,” he said. “I told you too if some special player is available and it’s a very good option, then maybe, but it doesn’t happen yet.
“It’s not impossible because it’s always one per cent maybe [someone] can arrive in the last moment, but I don’t believe we will sign some player.”
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