Mauricio Pochettino has cast further doubt on

Toby Alderweireld’s Tottenham situation by

insisting the Belgian will not play in their

Champions Leaguelast 16 tie with Juventus next

week.

Alderweireld returned from a three-month lay-off

with a hamstring injury at the start of the month

but Pochettino has only started the centre half in

Spurs’ FA Cup ties with Newport County and

Rochdale.

Manchester United are interested in Alderweireld as

he continues to stall over a new Tottenham

contract and Spurs could sell him this summer

rather than risk losing him for the A?25million

release clause his deal triggers in summer 2019.

United are prepared to bid for Alderweireld this

summer but Pochettino was forced to defend

Tottenham’s cautious approach with the 28-year-

old centre half on the eve of their fifth round

replay against Rochdale.

“He is still recovering, he is not participating with

the group,” Pochettino said on Tuesday. “The

answer is clear,” he added when asked about the

prospect of Alderweireld facing Juve in the second

leg.

“Sometimes people create an expectation,a�?

Pochettino explained. “And then we are the bad

guys, when we say, a�?No, no, no, you cannot

playa�� or we start to build your fitness step-by-

step. It’s our responsibility.

“But it’s impossible to explain everything. It’s just

to be careful about the player because we want

Toby 100 per cent, ready to play. We don’t take

our decisions based on public opinion. We are

professional and when we take a decision, it’s

because we have assessed and analysed, we have

thought 100 times to try to take the best decision

for the team and for the player.”

Pochettino’s handling of Alderweireld is similar to

how he dealt with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose’s

fitness issues. Walker left Tottenham in a A?54m

deal in the summer before Rose publicly questioned

the club’s ambition and flirted with United in an

interview with The Sun newspaper.

Rose was ‘very disappointed’ to be omitted from

the squad to face Arsenal in November and

Pochettino harboured doubts about Walker’s

durability during his final season before he joined

Manchester City.

The M.E.N. revealed United’s interest in

Alderweireld earlier this month.

Sports Reporter

Paulmikki Osude is a respected blogger who loves to discuss about sports,

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