Tottenham’s Walker ‘available’ to face West Ham
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Boss Pochettino will not discuss full-back’s long-term future
Mauricio Pochettino says Kyle Walker is available to face West Ham tomorrow night and is focused on Tottenham’s title challenge – but he has refused to discuss whether the England player is happy at the club.
Walker was omitted from the starting line-up for both the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea and the north London derby against Arsenal last week, instead finding himself selected for the midweek trip to 16th-placed Crystal Palace.
While Pochettino has always rotated his full-backs, his decision to pick Kieran Trippier for the clashes against Spurs’ top-six rivals has prompted reports that Walker is eyeing a move away and is interested in joining Manchester City.
Spurs’ manager confirmed that Walker has trained this week as usual, and that he is “on the list” ahead of tomorrow’s trip to the London Stadium.
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But, asked whether his right-back is happy at White Hart Lane, Pochettino said: “I cannot confirm this because it’s rumours, and if I speak about all the rumours then maybe we extend the press conference two hours.
“For me every game is big. Crystal Palace was a big game. Swansea was a big game. Or do you not think so?
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“All the 21 players that are on the list are focused on trying to help the team to achieve the things that we are fighting for.”
Pochettino admits it is somewhat frustrating to be discussing the future of a member of his squad while his side are in the hunt for the title.
Spurs can move just one point behind leaders Chelsea tomorrow night – and the Argentinian says no decisions about players’ futures and their contracts will be made until the campaign has finished.
“I think it’s not a good thing because Tottenham is the team that is most involved in the rumours,” he said.
“You see now in the last month – there’s still two weeks and four games to go but there’s many, many rumours.
“But it doesn’t affect me. I am so calm, the players are very calm. They all know what happens inside, and it’s important that our fans know that here it’s all really calm.
“The rumours are rumours and we’ll see what happens at the end, if the rumours are true or not, like always in football.
“The good thing now is we are all focused on trying to finish the season. The day after Hull, we can start to speak about all the things that maybe happen at the club for next season.
“But today all the players, all the board, the club, the staff, are focused on trying to give our best to finish in the best way.
“There’s no point in speaking today about things that can only affect the team in a negative way. There’s no decisions until the end of the season, about nothing.
“I understand all the rumours and I accept the business, but please, a little bit of care. I think our fans don’t care, and they understand, but it’s true Tottenham is a trending topic in all the rumours.
“We are champions. In the last two seasons I think we’re more than first [for the number of rumours].”
Tottenham will visit a West Ham side who have moved to a new home this season, having left Upton Park last summer and taken up residence at the London Stadium in Stratford.
The Hammers have struggled in their new surroundings, losing seven Premier League fixtures in front of their own fans while only winning six. Indeed, they have the fifth-worst home record in the top flight.
Spurs will face similar issues as they prepare to leave White Hart Lane and spend a season at Wembley, before then returning to N17 and their new stadium – and Pochettino admits he will seek advice from Irons manager Slaven Bilic.
“It’s a great opportunity to listen to him,” he said. “It’s sure many questions will appear before or after the game. It’s always important to listen, to be open, to learn. He maybe can advise us on different things.
“[With West Ham], we can only see from outside, but we don’t know the reality and it’s so difficult to speak about what happens there.
“Only I can say that always when you move it’s something different that you need to adapt to, with different things. It’s sure they have suffered a little bit.
“It’s important that all our staff, the club and the players know that next season will be tougher than the last, or others. It will be different and we need everyone giving their best to try to arrive at the new stadium in a very good condition.”
Tottenham will be without left-back Danny Rose once again tomorrow evening as he continues his recovery from a long-term knee injury.
The 26-year-old is due to return to full training next week but Pochettino remains cautious about his prospects of returning in the last ever match at White Hart Lane, against Manchester United next Sunday.
“We’ll see,” he said. “After three months of not playing, we need to see and assess him. It’s not easy for every player to arrive and to play.
“We hope that next week he can stay with the group training, and then we’ll decide if he’s in a condition to play or not.
“But the most important thing is that he feels good and recovers his fitness and his knee, and then it’s important to be involved again with the team.”
Meanwhile, Pochettino has sent his best wishes to ex-Spurs winger Aaron Lennon, who was detained by police this week under the Mental Health Act and is now receiving treatment for a stress-related illness.
“We feel very sorry about the situation with Aaron. We wanted from here to send all our wishes that he recovers soon - him and his family, all,” said Spurs’ manager. “The club is in contact with his agent now, trying to see what we can do to help him.
“We all feel very sorry. It’s a person that was here for nearly 10 years and Tottenham care a lot about his situation. The players, the staff, all the people are very concerned about his situation.”