Alex McLeish has questioned what Serge Aurier’s mentality will be like as he prepares to make a rare start for Tottenham against Manchester City.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Aston Villa and Scotland manager has admitted players can find it difficult to motivate themselves when they know they are only acting as cover in the starting XI.

Aurier is likely to get the nod against Pep Guardiola’s men after first-choice right-back Matt Doherty tested positive for Covid-19 while on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.

The Ivory Coast international has started just twice in the Premier League this season, while he has made a further three appearances in the cup competitions.

McLeish has admitted it can be “demoralising” for players to drop in and out the side depending on availability and questioned how Aurier would be feeling about his role at Spurs.

Asked if the Ivorian could lift his game to match Doherty’s impressive displays, McLeish told Football Insider: It depends, is Serge in a huff? Sometimes when players are left out, their levels go down, as does their whole body language and demeanour.

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“These are the elements you have to cope with as a manager in order to keep a player’s chin up and tell Serge you can get back in. Serge might feel: ‘I’ll get back in for a couple games until he’s (Doherty) okay and then I’ll be out again, where’s my future lie?’ 

“That’s when they start to disintegrate a wee bit and have thoughts, but if you are happy to be part of our squad, you’re making a contribution and you know that you can’t play every game, sometimes you know you’re filling in for somebody, it can be a wee bit demoralising.

“At the same time, a lot of players know that, their mindset, they know that that’s the modern game.”

In other Tottenham news, Paul Robinson has been left raving over “exceptional” Spurs player who has barely been seen this season.