Spurs need to 'believe'

Dele Alli receives medical attention as he holds his hamstring after appearing to pick up an injury in Spurs' win over Fulham.
Dele Alli receives medical attention as he holds his hamstring after appearing to pick up an injury in Spurs' win over Fulham.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Alli joins injury list but Pochettino says it is a 'massive opportunity' for others to step up

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that the hamstring injury which forced Dele Alli out of Tottenham's 2-1 Premier League win at Fulham on Sunday "did not look great" as he faced up to the loss of yet another key attacking player.

Spurs play Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final, second leg at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg.

Pochettino is already resigned to being without Harry Kane, who has an ankle ligament injury, and Son Heung-min, who is on international duty with South Korea at the Asian Cup.

Lucas Moura, who missed the Fulham game because of knee trouble, should return at Chelsea, but Moussa Sissoko (groin) and Victor Wanyama (knee) are out while the Spurs manager now faces an anxious wait over Alli.

The Argentinian manager has already made it clear that he does not consider a move in the January transfer market as a solution to what seems like a selection crisis.

"We need to assess Dele in the next few days, but the hamstring is a muscle that you need to be careful with - in terms of the mechanism of the injury," he said.

"We need to assess but, of course, it does not look great. On the pitch, I think we all agree that when you see him put his hand on his hamstring, it's not great to see that."

Pochettino, who did welcome back Eric Dier as a substitute after appendix surgery, added that the long injury list gives other members in his squad the chance to step up.

"It's not a worry, it's a massive opportunity for different players," he said. "We're going to go to Chelsea expecting to win. The most important thing is to believe."

In the absence of Kane and Son - who have scored 22 league goals between them this season - Tottenham found an unlikely match winner in Harry Winks on Sunday.

The England midfielder had not scored for the club since November 2016, but he struck seconds before the final whistle to seal a 2-1 victory at Craven Cottage.

It was also the first time since March 2014 that Spurs have won a league game without Kane or Son.

Kane's replacement, Fernando Llorente, had endured a tough afternoon. He scored a 14th-minute own goal and then wasted two gilt-edged chances. Alli then netted the equaliser before he went off.

The win meant that Tottenham moved to within nine points of leaders Liverpool and five behind Manchester City, but also gave them breathing space over Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United in the battle for a top-four finish.

"It was an unbelievable finish. That's why it is so important to believe," added Pochettino, whose side have won 11 of 13 matches on the road in the league this season.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2019, with the headline 'Spurs need to 'believe''. Print Edition | Subscribe