Jan Vertonghen’s omission from the Tottenham team for the first three games of the season can only be explained by a fall-out with Mauricio Pochettino, according to Noel Whelan.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Leeds United and Coventry City striker insisted that he was baffled by the shock omission of the centre-back at the start of the new campaign.

Vertonghen failed to make the Tottenham starting XI until he got his first action of the campaign in last Sunday’s 2-2 north London derby thriller against Arsenal.

Whelan is convinced that the 114-times Belgium international’s status as third choice behind Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez, who have started all four games, is the result of behind-the-scenes issues.

“There’s been a fall-out at the training ground, or something’s happened at the training ground,” Whelan told Football Insider. “That’s the only explanation, really.

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“Pochettino has showed plenty of times he’s not afraid to leave out the big names if there are issues. He’s done it with Alderweireld, Danny Rose and he’s done it with Christian Eriksen this season.

“If everything is okay, there’s no way a fully fit Vertonghen wouldn’t be in the team. He’s a far more reliable defender than Sanchez and his right-foot, left-foot partnership with Alderweireld is one of the best in the league.

“I’m a massive fan of Vertonghen. He’s been a class act for a long time.”

Vertonghen has been a mainstay of the Spurs line-up since signing from Ajax in 2012.

He has accumulated 286 appearances for the Londoners and has been a first choice starter at centre-back throughout Pochettino’s five-year reign.

In other Tottenham news, it can be REVEALED that Pochettino is planning to fast-track teen into his starting XI after the international break, after being wowed in training.