David Hytner on 12 February 2018
Mauricio Pochettino says he omitted Toby Alderweireld from his squad to face Juventus in the Champions League because he cannot put the defender’s career at risk.
Alderweireld returned from a three-month absence with a hamstring injury last Wednesday against Newport County in the FA Cup but Pochettino, who left him out against Arsenal on Saturday, does not think he is fit enough for matches at the highest level. He said Alderweireld (? above) would play at Rochdale in the Cup on Sunday.
“Of course we are sorry for him,” Pochettino said. “We work a lot to play in this type of game against Juventus. When you cannot play, it is difficult to accept.
“The player feels fit to play but it is our responsibility, together with the medical department, to take the best decision. With this injury, be careful. It was a massive one.
“Look at different players that had setbacks with it – like Ross Barkley [of Chelsea]. Toby is not 20 years old, he is 28. To play in these type of tough games, you need to be 200 per cent. We cannot put his career at risk.”