Forwards still strike a chord for Pochettino

LONDON • Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino admits he still needs forward reinforcements after watching his team blow a two-goal lead in their 2-2 draw against Stoke on Saturday.

Pochettino played down his decision to take off talisman Harry Kane before Stoke began their comeback. But he agreed the England forward is below par after spending part of the close season playing for the England Under-21 squad in the European Championship.

The need to add another specialist target to his squad was made more urgent by the club's decision to allow Spanish forward Roberto Soldado to leave for Spanish side Villarreal this week.

Although Cameroon forward Clinton N'Jie has completed his move from Lyon, Pochettino's repeated description of the 22-year-old as "versatile" suggests that he is not viewed as a like-for-like alternative to Kane as a central striker.

"Harry was tired," Pochettino said of the league's second-top scorer last season with 21 goals, later briefing media that Kane had also suffered from cramps.

  • WHO'S THE NEW BOY?

  • Name: Clinton N'Jie

  • Age: 21

  • Position: Forward

  • Height: 175cm

  • Club: Olympique Lyon (43 games, 8 goals, 9 assists)

  • Country: Cameroon (11 caps, 6 goals, 1 assist )

"He came late to pre-season. But that's normal. He's doing better but he needs time to arrive in peak condition. But we knew that before. We spoke about it last season and you can see the consequence now.

"Seventy minutes was enough for him and we didn't want to take risks with his fitness."

Asked if Kane could play two games for England in next month's international break, Pochettino added: "I don't know. That is (England manager) Roy Hodgson's problem."

By the time the England games are played next month, Pochettino hopes to have added that elusive extra forward.

"Clinton can play in different positions and he can play centrally, but I think we still need another forward," he said. "Yes, we need to add some more players to the squad, but it's not a worry, we deserved to win against Stoke.

"It wasn't a problem of strikers, it was our defensive play."

Pochettino pinpointed the defending of crosses, of which Stoke sent in a barrage in the final 20 minutes, pulling a goal back through Marko Arnautovic's penalty and finally equalising when Mame Biram Diouf nodded home from Stephen Ireland's cross.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes was delighted with his team's comeback after Eric Dier's header and Nacer Chadli's volley had apparently put Tottenham in charge.

He was also pleased that team spirit was undiluted by the addition of new players including Ibrahim Afellay and Xherdan Shaqiri, who was unable to make his debut at Tottenham, serving the final match of a suspension picked up with Inter Milan.

"We've got a really good group," he said. "The guys who have come in have really bought into it. They are good players, talented boys but really good characters as well, which is important for our group."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'Forwards still strike a chord for Pochettino'. Print Edition | Subscribe