By Richard Parks
Mauricio Pochettino has revealed he held “nice” talks with Toby Alderweireld after he was omitted from the Tottenham side for their recent Premier League draw at Liverpool.
The centre-back declared a fortnight ago he was fully fit after three months on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
But Alderweireld has been omitted from the Tottenham matchday squad for their last two Premier League matches against Liverpool and Arsenal and will once again miss out for Tuesday night’s Champions League clash against Juventus in Turin.
Pochettino revealed at his pre-match media conference in Italy on Monday evening that Alderweireld has been left behind in London along with younger pair Juan Foyth and Kyle Walker-Peters.
Pochettino confirmed the widespread reports over the last 24 hours that Belgium international Alderweireld is not in the travelling party despite making a polished comeback in the FA Cup against Newport County last Wednesday.
As quoted by Football London’s live blog (5.35pm) covering the manager’s press conference, Pochettino held clear-the-air talks with Alderweireld eight days ago as he explained why it is important he is not rushed back.
“We had a nice conversation after the Liverpool game,” explained the manager. “The player last season was working hard to play in the Champions League. It’s normal to have the excitement to play. They always feel fit to play but it’s up to us and the medical stuff to make the decision. Then if something wrong happens the responsibility is us.
“With this type of injury you have to be careful. Look at this type of injury. Different type of players have had had a setback, like [Ross] Barkley. Football is about taking risks, but not if we feel he is ready to compete with the demand of this type of game, and Arsenal and Liverpool.”
Foyth partnered Alderweireld in central defence for the full 90 minutes last week in the convincing 2-0 FA Cup fourth-round replay win against League Two minnows Newport.
Pochettino is expected to select Davinson Sanchez, Jan Vertonghen and, possibly, Eric Dier, in the middle of the defence for the first leg against Juve.