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Pochettino: Spurs player must improve to compete

PUBLISHED: 17:11 19 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:11 19 September 2019

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino (pic Mike Egerton/PA)

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino (pic Mike Egerton/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Mauricio Pochettino says every player at Tottenham is aware of the need to improve if they are to compete for big things this season.

Spurs let a two-goal lead slip away to Olympiacos in the Champions League on Wednesday night and had to settle for a 2-2 draw in a case of deja vu after an identical scenario at Arsenal earlier this month.

Harry Kane admitted he could understand the frustration of his manager, saying: "He's been here for six years now and we're still making similar mistakes to the ones we were in his first year."

Pochettino, speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League match at Leicester, said: "I cannot talk about things I didn't hear. We need to be careful and my responsibility as a manager is to be careful.

"After the game, how you translate to me and the words or sentences are sometimes not in maybe the way he wanted to express or translate and that is why I will never judge the words of player after the game or in interview - never.

"They are so free to talk in the way they want to talk, but most important is we share the same opinion in private that we need to improve and I think all the players in the squad feel the same that we need to improve if we are to be a contender for big things."

After the match in Greece, Pochettino talked about how training maybe needed to be "psychologically harder" but appeared to back track on this when looking ahead to a trip to King Power.

He added: "(It) Depends how the people took my words, I never said that, that doesn't mean we are going to run more or spend more time at the training centre.

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"I think I wanted to say to keep the level we showed, the concentration and the focus we showed in the first half of Crystal Palace - that is the challenge to show the rest of the season."

Tottenham scored four times in the opening 45 minutes of last weekend's 4-0 victory at home to Roy Hodgson's side to put an inconsistent first month of the campaign behind them.

Yet a sluggish start in Athens against Olympiacos suggested Spurs are not quite back to their best.

Leicester, who hold ambitions of breaking into the Premier League top six, will look to back up those claims in the lunchtime kick-off, especially given the lack of preparation Tottenham have had.

Pochettino's players only returned to Hotspur Way at 4am on Thursday after a flight back from Greece, but he warned: "We cannot think about that.

"We need to be ready to compete on Saturday. We cannot change and only we can affect in a negative or positive way if we talk too much in one or another way.

"I prefer to talk positive. We have a big squad and we will assess the players and I hope to have a very good game and of course it will not be an excuse.

"What happens, happens on Saturday morning. We need to approach the game in our best condition and we have time to recover and I will tell you after the game if I am happy or not and if we suffer with this travelling."

Spurs will be without Giovani Lo Celso (hip) and Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) for the clash with Brendan Rodgers' side.

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