Toby Alderweireld out of Juventus game to protect his career, claims Mauricio Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino says he has left Toby Alderweireld out of the squad to face Juventus this evening to avoid jeopardising his career.
The Argentine believes he would have been gambling with Alderweireld’s future if he had selected him, despite the Belgium international having made his comeback from a hamstring injury in the recent FA Cup fourth round replay against Newport County and having declared himself fit to face Juve.
Reports yesterday indicated that Alderweireld’s Spurs career was in doubt as a result of his omission.
Pochettino hinted that the player was not happy with the decision, but insisted he was not yet ready to play in a game of the magnitude of a Champions League last-16 tie.
He told reporters: “Of course we are sorry for him. 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.”
Alderweireld was also left out of the squad that faced Arsenal in last weekend’s north London derby.
He has been sidelined since picking up a hamstring injury during the Champions League group stage win over Real Madrid at Wembley in November.