MAURICIO POCHETTINO has confirmed Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld will not face Juventus tonight as he feels the defender is not yet fit enough for a crunch Champions League tie.
Pochettino told Alderweireld he would miss the match in Turin during a conversation that lasted longer than two hours.
On the eve of the game the Spurs boss added that to be fielded against a team like Juve, every player needs to be at ‘200 per cent’ fitness.
Alderweireld played 90 minutes against Newport in the FA Cup last week, having returned from a 14-week absence because of a hamstring tear.
The Belgian declared after the match he felt ‘very good’ but was not included in the squad against Arsenal on Saturday and did not join the party which travelled to Italy yesterday either.
‘He is 28 and it was a massive injury we need to take care and be cautious with because we cannot put his career at risk,’ Pochettino said.
‘To play this type of game you need to be 200 per cent. Competing is not the same as training and that’s why we are caring about him with our plan.’
Spurs are still to convince Alderweireld to extend his current contract, which expires in the summer of 2019, but Pochettino insists this latest absence is down to nothing other than a physical factor. He added: ‘We had a nice conversation after the Liverpool game.
‘We explained during two hours. The player always feels they are fit to play but it is our responsibility together — the medical and fitness area — to take the best decision.
‘For us it is easy to put the player to play and then if something wrong happens, the responsibility is with us. Then the player is put at risk.’
Spurs face a huge task at the Allianz Stadium against a side who have been in two of the last three Champions League finals and Pochettino admitted: ‘We cannot compare with Juventus’ history, they have won everything. Our dream is to reach their level.’
■ 1 — Goal conceded by Juventus in their last 16 matches. The Italian champions have tightened up their defence after shipping 14 goals in their first 13 Serie A games this season.
They said it…
‘I had a dead leg for about ten minutes so it was a good welcome to international football. I’m looking forward to the challenge of coming up against him again’ — Harry Kane (pictured) on his reunion with Juve defender Giorgio Chiellini, who felled the striker within minutes of his first England start against Italy in 2015