Mauricio Pochettino’s insistence his Tottenham players will have no problem handling their daunting workload will be tested when Crystal Palace visit White Hart Lane in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday.
Tottenham’s surge up to second place in the Premier League means the club’s focus is now unexpectedly trained on landing a first championship since 1961.
But with Pochettino’s side also still competing in the Europa League – they face Palace on the back of Thursday’s 1-1 last 32 first leg draw at Fiorentina – as well as the FA Cup, every game between now and the end of the season will carried added significance.
The trip to Florence marked the start of a run that will see Spurs play six times in 16 days, but Pochettino is adamant his young squad is up to the task of competing on all fronts.
“The mentality is perfect. The players just want to play every game. They feel they are strong, feel they can all play every game and win every game. We need to carry on in the same way,” Pochettino said.
“We have a strong squad and in this period it’s important to use them all, to keep them all motivated and fit. It’s important to look after every single player.
“There is big competition for places between them and that’s a benefit for the team.”
Pochettino started Harry Kane on the bench for the Fiorentina game with the young striker set to return to the starting line-up for the visit of a Palace side that will include former Spurs striker Emmanuel Adebayor.
Kane, Eric Dier and Dele Alli are among the young players who have made stood out in Tottenham’s campaign and the England forward believes Pochettino’s youngsters can emulate Alex Ferguson’s youthful Manchester United team of the nineties.
“They were a great team so, again, with our squad and how young it is and obviously going into the new stadium in a few years, the future is bright,” Kane said.
“So it’s just about trying to keep everyone together and to keep moving forward and the future is ours for the taking.”
– Frustration –
Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris will again miss out with a shoulder injury along with young midfielder Tom Carroll.
“Tom suffered a cut on his Achilles. We hope it’s only seven to 10 days and he will be available again,” Pochettino said.
“Hugo is still out for Sunday. We hope he will be available for the second leg with Fiorentina on Thursday.”
Adebayor’s return will add an extra edge to the game, with the striker having been released by Tottenham in September, although the club continued to pay his salary.
The Togo international, who joined Palace in January, has expressed frustration at the way Spurs chairman Daniel Levy handled his exit and made it clear he would celebrate if he scores against his former club this weekend.
Palace certainly need Adebayor – who scored his first goal for his new club last weekend – to quickly find his feet as they attempt to reverse their alarming recent decline.
Eagles manager Alan Pardew said: “Adebayor is someone who has character, strength of belief and is a player who can change games.
“For whatever reason, he didn’t fit in the way Tottenham wanted to go forward and that’s sometimes a decision made by the manager and the chairman at a football club, and they part their ways.
“OK, the parting of the ways could have been done better on all sides. I don’t know all the answers to them.
“What I do know is that Emmanuel is highly motivated for the game and is ready to do well for Crystal Palace, and he has a first goal.”
Yannick Bolasie and Bakary Sako are expected to return for Palace after extended spells out. – Agence France-Presse