Spurs duo Kane and Alderweireld could return against Bayer Leverkusen or Arsenal next week
Tottenham duo Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld could be available for Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Bayer Leverkusen or next Sunday’s north London derby against Arsenal, says Mauricio Pochettino.
Kane has missed the last eight games after suffering an ankle injury against Sunderland, while Alderweireld has been absent for three matches after being stretchered off against West Bromwich Albion on October 15, having collided with team-mate Jan Vertonghen and hurt his knee.
They will both miss tomorrow’s league game against Premier League champions Leicester City at White Hart Lane.
But Pochettino said: “If Harry’s evolution is great in the next few days, maybe he’s available if not [on] Wednesday then maybe Sunday. If not we need to wait two weeks after the international break. Toby is the same as Harry and we’ll see.”
While Tottenham conceded a goal against West Brom after Alderweireld’s departure, they kept clean sheets in their following two games against Leverkusen and Bournemouth, before a second-string team lost 2-1 at Liverpool in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night.
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Eric Dier has played his part in two successive shut-outs while playing as a centre-back alongside Jan Vertonghen, deputising effectively for Alderweireld – and Pochettino says there should be no assumption that the Belgian will walk straight back into the team when he is fit enough to return.
“Nobody owns their place in the team,” the manager stressed. “Now he (Dier) is playing in a position that is centre-back, but it’s not Toby’s place.
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“Football is about the present and today it’s Eric Dier and he’s playing well and I’m happy with him and it’s tough for Toby to take the place again. Football is about opportunities and taking opportunities.”
Pochettino has laughed off rumours that Spurs are interested in signing Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, chuckling before saying: “Not true, 100 per cent not true.”
However, another Argentine is keen to sign a deal with Tottenham, with Erik Lamela stating this week that he would like to join the list of players who have recently extended their contracts.
“That is good news, that the player shows their commitment to the club and wants to be here and commit to the future,” said Pochettino. “It’s fantastic for us. Lamela is still very young and he’s an important player for us. I’m happy to hear that.”
An agreement is not expected imminently, though: “I’m always honest with you and nothing happens in the next week,” said Pochettino. “There’s nothing to announce, nothing is coming.”
The immediate focus is on tomorrow’s showdown with Leicester, who beat Spurs to the league title last campaign.
Claudio Ranieri’s champions look destined to lose their crown in May, currently lying in 12th place, nine points off the top – but Pochettino believes the Foxes can still be contenders.
“It’s not unrealistic,” he said. “I think they’ve signed good players. It’s normal, it’s difficult to keep the level that they showed last season.
“Today they are involved in one competition more, the Champions League, and that is difficult because you spend a lot of energy in that competition and to share it with the Premier League is very tough.
“It’s a very fresh experience, like for us - to play in the Champions League demands different things from us. But still they are a very good team with good players and it will be a very tough game on Saturday.”
The title race looks set to be closer than ever this term, with just one point separating the top five sides – a group that includes fifth-placed Tottenham, and Pochettino said: “At the moment, so far, we expect that. It’s a very competitive season and a lot of clubs and teams are fighting to be top of the table.
“I think this season will be tough and competitive and maybe we need to wait until the last game to know which team lifts the trophy in the end.
“But it’s good for us, good for the Premier League and good for football. I want to be involved. If that happens it’s a good thing for us.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs