Toby Alderweireld will not be ready to make his Tottenham comeback until February, while manager Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed there has been no progress on the defender’s contract talks.
Alderweireld injured a hamstring on November 1 in the Champions League defeat of Real Madrid at Wembley and has not played since.
The Belgian has been linked with a move to clubs including Chelsea, with his deal set to expire at the end of next season, but Pochettino shrugged off the 28-year-old being 18 months away from becoming a free agent.
“Of course we cannot change the reality of his injury, he cannot play until February,” said Pochettino, whose side face Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday.
“With him or without him we win and lose. Of course the manager always wants all the players to be fit to play like [Victor] Wanyama, Danny Rose or [Erik] Lamela before.
“Always you are going to miss the players that are not fit but that is normal. But for me football is about the team, it is not about individual players.
“Of course some players have more influence on the team but I think we have a good enough squad and players that can play, and win or lose it is about the quality of performance if we miss one or another player.”
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 12, 2017
Of Alderweireld’s contract, Pochettino added: “Of course it is his decision, it’s our decision, he still has two years on his contract, and we are looking forward to him playing and to him staying here.
“The players are showing their commitment. I am so calm how [chairman] Daniel Levy drives everything and manages the contracts of the players and yes I am not worried or concerned about this.”
While Alderweireld remains some time away from returning to action, Lamela is in line to make his first Premier League start since October 2016 against Brighton.
“Maybe, maybe [Lamela will start],” said Pochettino. “I still haven’t decided. He has a chance to play from the start.”
— Alderweireld Toby (@AlderweireldTob) November 1, 2017
Spurs topped Group H ahead of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, earning a last-16 Champions League meeting with Serie A winners Juventus, and Pochettino expects his side to face a tough test in February.
“I think it’s of course not an easy opponent in the Champions League at this stage, but we are so excited to play against Juventus,” said Pochettino.
“Juventus are a great team, the best team in Italy. Of course, always in recent years they have been involved in semi-finals or finals. To have the possibility to play against them is so exciting for us, our fans and everyone. It will be very tough because they have a very good team.”
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