Spurs boss yet to decide whether to field World Cup stars at West Ham
15:31 14 August 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Mauricio Pochettino is relishing the Premier League kick-off at West Ham on Saturday – but he admits he is yet to decide whether to pick his World Cup stars.
Spurs’ Belgian trio of Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli have not played in any of Tottenham’s pre-season games after having extended time off after their exploits in Brazil – and the same applies to Paulinho, while Cameroon international Benoit Assou-Ekotto is not expected to be involved at Upton Park.
Tottenham’s players will be on tenterhooks as they wait for their new boss to name the starting line-up for his first competitive game, and to see who gets the spots on the bench - but Pochettino still has decisions to make.
“We need tomorrow to decide the 18 players and the final list,” he said. “We have one more training session tomorrow and after that we’ll decide.
“We need to analyse some players because they arrived late from the World Cup and we need to improve their physical condition.
“At the moment I have my ideas in my mind but I need one more day to decide the 18 players for playing against West Ham on Saturday.
“We are ready, we’re happy with our pre-season. The players always want to compete and so do we [the coaching team] - and the season starts on Saturday and it’s good news. We expect a tough game because it’s a derby, but we are ready to compete on Saturday.
“At the moment our challenge is putting our philosophy and system into practice. We know we need time to improve our new system, our new philosophy, but we are very happy at the moment. We improve quickly and the most important thing is we are ready to play and compete.”
Pochettino added: “It is important to have a good start, to win the three points. There will then be that belief in your ideas, and the group is stronger. It’s an important thing to get the three points to start in a good way.
“It’s different when the World Cup has finished in the last month or so. It’s different restarting the season after that but we don’t expect many changes in the Premier League.
“I think it’s a very tough competition. It can be different with different managers, styles and cultures, but we expect the same. I think the Premier League is the best in the world and the most competitive league so we expect a tough season.”
While the Premier League campaign gets under way this weekend, there are still more than two weeks until the transfer window closes.
Spurs signed USA international right-back DeAndre Yedlin last night – although he is not due to join the club until next summer. And Pochettino was keeping his cards close to his chest when he was asked if he expects more signings.
“It’s not my concern,” he said. “I think we have an unbelievable squad. Last season the club made a big investment and signed unbelievable players. The most important thing is to develop our players and to provide the best team to play on the pitch.
“We want to improve [our players], but we need to learn [about them]. Our style is always to feel the player and then to try to get the best out of them for the team and for the club - but we need to learn from them.”
Asked whether he remains hopeful of signing Morgan Schneiderlin from his former club Southampton, Pochettino replied: “It’s not my style to speak about a player from another club, I don’t like that. I have full respect for all of them and I have nothing to say.”
It is thought that Andros Townsend could leave Spurs if an acceptable offer is received in the next fortnight, but Pochettino says the winger has “great potential”.
“Like [Michael] Dawson and other players, he’s in the squad as an important player,” he said. “He’s an English player for the national team. He missed the World Cup because of injury but we need to recover a player like him because he has great potential and very good qualities.”
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