(Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen could make his first appearance in nearly two months against Inter Milan in the Champions League at Wembley on Wednesday after recovering from a hamstring injury, manager Mauricio Pochettino said.
The news comes as a boost for Tottenham, who need to beat Inter to have any hope of emerging from Group B, where they are currently in third place behind Barcelona and the Italian side.
Vertonghen has been a mainstay of Pochettino’s defence for the past few seasons alongside his Belgium international team mate Toby Alderweireld, but has not played since Spurs beat Huddersfield Town on Sept. 29.
“Jan was ready to play against Chelsea (on Saturday) but my decision was (Juan) Foyth and Toby. He’s ready to play. He was working so hard in the last three or four weeks,” Pochettino told reporters on Tuesday.
Argentinian Foyth is not part of Tottenham’s Champions League squad while his fellow centre back Davinson Sanchez, who is eligible to play, has a hamstring problem, so Vertonghen’s return is well timed.
Pochettino is also expecting a big performance from England international midfielder Dele Alli, saying the 22-year-old plays his best football when the stakes are highest.
Alli has scored twice for Tottenham in the Premier League this season, including in their 3-1 victory over London rivals Chelsea in the Premier League at the weekend, but is yet to make his mark in Europe.
“When (Alli) is under pressure he is unbelievable,” Pochettino said. “He loves a challenge. His mentality is that he gets bored quickly when he doesn’t feel the pressure.”
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)