Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino admits Harry Winks injury is a concern
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The 22-year-old has struggled with an ankle problem for much of the season and has now gone to Qatar to have rehab at Aspeta
Mauricio Pochettino admits Harry Winks’ ankle problem has become a concern, but he has reassured Toby Alderweireld that he is likely to get a game before the end of the season.
Winks suffered an ankle injury against Crystal Palace in early November and has struggled ever since. He initially tried to play through the pain but has now been sidelined since February.
Pochettino stated last week that surgery was not being considered, but the 22-year-old midfielder has headed to Aspetar in Qatar this week – a leading specialised orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital.
Asked whether Winks’ injury is now becoming more of a worry, Pochettino said: “Yes, I think yes. He’s in Qatar doing his rehab. We’ll see what happens.
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“We hope after that period he can come back, fixing his problem, and try to again stay in the group training. But of course we are a little bit concerned about his situation and we’re trying to fix his problem.
“Will he play again this season? We’ll see. It’s impossible now to say or guess what’s going to happen. Like always, it’s about how he’s going to react to the treatment and everything.
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“When you’re young, it’s more difficult to handle [these situations] in your brain, in your mind, but we’re all trying – the staff, the people - to help him to fix his problem and again start to enjoy playing football, which is all the players want to do.”
While Winks may have played his last match this season, Pochettino expects Alderweireld to make an appearance before the end of the campaign.
The Belgian centre-back is yet to sign a new contract and may be sold this summer to ensure Spurs get the best possible deal for a highly-rated player who could leave for £25million in the summer of 2019.
Although he is fit and available, Alderweireld has been overlooked recently and has not even been named on the bench for the last two matches, fuelling speculation that Tottenham are preparing for life without him.
But Pochettino said: “I think we make a drama sometimes for small things. After 14 games unbeaten there’s no point talking about a player that did not play and was injured for a long time.
“But if you want to, Toby is still our player, with a two-year contract. I’m sure he’s going to play [before] the end of the season. He’s doing well, he’s training and he only needs to wait for his opportunity.”
The main subject of interest at Tottenham this week has been Harry Kane’s attempt to claim the second goal scored at Stoke City last weekend.
It was originally credited to Christian Eriksen, only for Kane to swear on his daughter’s life that the ball had touched his shoulder on its way into the net.
Kane and Spurs appealed to the Premier League, and the goal has now been given to the striker, taking his tally to 25 for the season in the top flight and leaving him four behind Mohamed Salah in the race for the Golden Boot.
It was put to Pochettino that, in claiming a team-mate’s goal, Kane had seemingly put personal ambition above collective success.
But Pochettino said: “It’s not a big deal, I promise you. Harry is generous, a person who always puts the collective ahead of himself.
“All strikers want to score and they have their skill - they are aggressive, they have this determination, like other strikers. But Harry always shows his commitment to the team, with his team-mates.
“After the goal you can see the clip when Harry says to Christian ‘I touched it with my right shoulder’, and after the game they were happy. Harry said ‘I think it was my goal’ and Christian said ‘ok no problem’. It was all stuff like this. No-one’s talked about that this week inside the club.
“I care about the goal because it provided us with the three points, but all that happens after that is more about players’ decisions or the club’s decision.
“That was a club decision to appeal, I wasn’t involved in this decision. Of course I think and I’m sure that Harry and Christian were agreed to do this, but no-one says to me what was going to happen. For me, it’s a deal between them and if the club believes it was right to appeal, there’s nothing to say for me.”
Tottenham are next in action against the Premier League’s champions-elect, Manchester City, on Saturday night.
Pep Guardiola’s side left the chasing pack for dead early on in the season and, despite a defeat at Old Trafford last weekend, they still have a 13-point lead at the top of the table.
Spurs will hope to be rather closer next term. But Pochettino says Saturday’s duel will provide few clues about whether his side will be able to keep pace next season.
“It’s not about one result, that we’re going to show that we’re ready or not ready,” he said. “We’ve already shown that we’re ready to compete. We need to be consistent during the whole season and be the best team, like Manchester City is doing today.
“Of course the gap is massive with Man City. We’re in the race for the top four and that, for Tottenham, is a massive achievement, to finish in the top four for the third season in a row.
“That is so important but the ambition is to win titles, and one day the Premier League or Champions League.”
Christian Eriksen will face Kevin De Bruyne at Wembley, and Pochettino believes they are among the best midfielders in the league.
“Both are fantastic,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re the best but if you make your top five, I’m sure all the managers and football people are going to name them both.”
City defender Kyle Walker is set to line up against his former side, having left Spurs last summer, and Pochettino said: “Of course, the fans feel disappointed that he decided to move to City. But in the end that is human nature, that you want sometimes a new challenge, a new experience and new motivation.
“For me, always Kyle will be a player that did a lot for the club, did a lot for us in three years - and of course the club did a lot for him and we did many things for him.
“The relationship is good with us, with the club. He deserves a good reception.
“I think the fans love him - disappointed in the moment that he left - but he deserves a good reception from the fans.”
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