(Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli is back in training ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Brighton and Hove Albion but manager Mauricio Pochettino will not risk playing the attacking midfielder unless he is fully fit.
Alli missed Tottenham’s last two games due to a hamstring injury sustained over the international break and the team are under pressure after suffering three consecutive defeats early in the season.
Spurs were beaten at Watford before the players went off on international duty and Alli was absent as they lost at home to Liverpool in the Premier League and then at Inter Milan in the Champions league on Tuesday.
“We still need to wait until tomorrow to assess whether (Alli) will be part of the squad,” Pochettino told reporters on Thursday. “Maybe we need to wait a few days more to involve him.
“We are never going to put ourselves or interests in front of taking risks for a player. It’s impossible. We need to feel they are 100 percent.”
The Argentine faced questions about his team selection for the Inter game after leaving England right back Kieran Trippier and Belgium central defender Toby Alderweireld out of the squad for their first European match of the season.
He was clearly annoyed in his post-match news conference when asked about selection decisions, but said on Thursday that he was “relaxed” and “calm” despite the recent run of results.
“I know football very well,” he added. “When you win you get a lot of praise sometimes you don’t deserve, when you lose you need to keep the balance and accept the criticism and that people are going to think different.
“Of course I’ll try to find why we lose, that is how I understand football and I accept that situation is going to happen. That’s why the balance is most important.”
Striker Harry Kane has been under scrutiny after turning in several lacklustre performances.
The England international started the season well, scoring in wins over Fulham and Manchester United, but has gone off the boil, failing to score in his last three Spurs matches and struggling to have any sort of influence.
Pochettino defended Kane, denying that the striker is suffering from fatigue after his exertions with England at the World Cup in Russia over the summer.
“Harry is one of the best players that we have,” his manager said. “There’s no doubt. It is only three games. Not too much. I think all strikers suffer periods where they don’t score.
“Because he’s such an important player for us, when he doesn’t score we sometimes struggle to win.”
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)