LONDON • Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed that Dele Alli will start today's final Champions League Group H game against Apoel Nicosia, despite the midfielder struggling for form.
The 21-year-old Englishman cut a frustrated figure when he was substituted during Saturday's 1-1 Premier League draw with Watford.
But, ahead of the Wembley clash today in which Spurs will top the group regardless of the result, Pochettino said: "We are going to rest some players of course, but Dele is going to play.
"He missed three Champions League games because he was banned and I think he needs to play. He's fresh to play."
Midfielder Victor Wanyama is also back in training following a long layoff after he picked up a serious knee injury in September.
Pochettino is hoping that the Kenyan can rejoin the squad for the hectic Christmas schedule. "He's doing well, we need to assess him day by day, week by week," he said.
The Spurs manager added that his struggling side can thrive on criticism over their patchy form, admitting they have not yet learnt the winning habit of teams such as Real Madrid, who play Borussia Dortmund today and are guaranteed to finish second in Group H.
Despite Spurs' success in the Champions League thus far, the draw with Watford was their fourth Premier League match in a row without a victory, and they are a whopping 18 points off top spot.
But Pochettino remains adamant Spurs will emerge stronger for their struggles. "We want to avoid bad moments and periods, but we are not still this type of team like Barcelona, Real Madrid that can maybe keep winning and winning for long periods," he said.
"We're completely different, we're not in the last stage (of our development). So we need to use these experiences to improve, to learn, to get more experience.
"When people criticise us, my staff and my team, that always makes you stronger, and sometimes that's good."
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