(Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur defender Danny Rose was excluded from last Saturday's north London derby over fitness concerns, manager Mauricio Pochettino said as he denied reports of a rift between himself and the England international.
Rose, 27, returned from a knee injury in Tottenham's Champions League draw with Real Madrid last month and was named in the club's match day squad in the following five games but was completely absent for Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Arsenal.
The full-back also featured in England's friendlies against Germany and Brazil earlier this month but Pochettino believes Rose is not fully fit.
"I think you are trying to find some issue that is not an issue," Pochettino told reporters. "We analysed the player and we said to the player that we believed it was better to play another player, and (Rose) needs to wait.
"For us... it was the decision to make him train at the training ground, like (winger Erik) Lamela was playing with the under-23s, to try to get fit. It's not another reason. It's only that he needs to build, and then wait for his opportunity."
The defeat at the Emirates leaves Tottenham 11 points behind league leaders Manchester City in fourth and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris believes the club must improve their consistency to retain their place among the top clubs in England.
"I think the most important thing is to stay consistent in the league," Lloris said. "We have been the last three years in the top four.
"We need to carry on to settle the club in this position and try to get more experience -- this team is still young -- and reduce the gap with the best and obviously the future for Tottenham will be great."
Tottenham have sealed qualification to the Champions League knockout stages and can bounce back from their domestic disappointment when they travel to Borussia Dortmund in the penultimate group stage match on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru)