What’s the latest on the fitness of the players who haven’t travelled?
Mauricio Pochettino: “You know that Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele are recovering from minor problems that were suffered in the game against Sunderland. Moussa Sissoko got a problem during the game at Middlesbrough and they can’t play because of that.”
Can you explain a bit more about the problems with Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele?
Mauricio: “They are okay but we don’t want to take a risk. We have a lot of games ahead, a very difficult period and then (matches) with the national team. We will not take a risk with them. They are training well – Eric Dier and Danny Rose are at the same level, we’ll see with Mousa, but why take risks? It’s only two days since we played Middlesbrough, it doesn’t make sense to take a risk now.”
Do the injury problems you’re now facing vindicate the signings you made this summer?
Mauricio: “Yes, always when you play in the Champions League, a new competition for us, it’s important to have a strong squad and to sign players that can compete between each other. It’s because of that I think it was good that we signed those players. We are competitive, now we are a bit unlucky with injuries but we have depth in the squad and it’s a good opportunity for the players that don’t play too much. In football the squad is important, the 25 players are important. Now we have some players that are injured but it’s important for the squad and the team that all are ready to play.”
Do you think the players will be doubly determined to prove themselves after the Monaco game?
Mauricio: “I think that all felt disappointed after the game. I was realistic like the players were – we need to improve our performance and we must win tomorrow. It’s very important to get the three points. We know it will be a very tough game but in our minds we want to get the three points.”
Are you worried about a lack of experience in your squad ahead of this important match in the Champions League?
Mauricio: “No, I don’t believe it’s because of a lack of experience that we lost the first game against Monaco. I think for different reasons we didn’t perform the way we wanted to perform and we lost the game. We conceded very easy goals against Monaco, in the end they only created two chances and the chances that they had, they scored. I think that we deserved more but we lost. We are young but it’s about competing and tomorrow is a good opportunity to compete in a different way to how we competed against Monaco at Wembley. But I don’t think that experience in this competition was the problem in the first game.”
Were you surprised to see the Russian Spurs fans at the airport when you arrived today?
Mauricio: “I was not surprised because of the magnitude of our club. We could see it at Wembley a few weeks ago when we played against Monaco in front of nearly 90,000 people. You can see the size of our club. It doesn’t surprise me that we have fans everywhere.”
Who has the best haircut in your squad?
Mauricio: “I don’t know. I think Toby’s is good, Lamela’s is good. Then there are other players that need to improve – and need to improve a lot. I cannot give names but you can see it now in training!”
Do you have an update on how long Harry Kane will be out for?
Mauricio: “I always try to be honest with you. Just half an hour ago we received the report about the scan and it’s much, much better than we expected. Maybe we can reduce the time (that he is out) but we are happy, the scan was very positive, we are very happy about this news but still we cannot give a time for how long his recovery will be. We are happy because the scan was better than we expected. I am not a doctor, it’s difficult to say how long but it’s true that it’s much, much, much better than what we expected and that is very positive.”
What do you make of Heung-Min Son’s performances of late and do you see him as a possible replacement for Harry Kane up front?
Mauricio: “I am happy with him and he is happy with the last few games. He is scoring and playing very well and I am happy with his performances in the last few games. It’s one possibility to play with him up front but we have Vincent Janssen too. Both have the possibility to play tomorrow – Vincent or him.”
When you pose with players for their new contract photos, do you have a ritual where you have to pose in the same way?
Mauricio: “The problem is the players want me in the same position because if not they will be jealous! Some people are too far away or too close, then they share the picture and ask why are you laughing with Kyle Walker or why are you very close to Eric Dier – you understand. It’s always the same.”
Do you feel confident that you can mount an equal challenge in the Champions League and Premier League?
Mauricio: “Yes, we believe that we are ready to compete in all competitions. Always we try to do our best and believe in all the players in the squad because in the end we are involved in four competitions and it’s important to use all the players and all the players are ready to compete. We will try to compete in every competition and try to win something.”