What’s the latest on Harry Kane’s injury?
Mauricio Pochettino: “We need to assess him every day. We are waiting for another scan next week and then we can assess him much better and know how long his recovery will be. We need to wait for the next scan because there is still swelling around his ankle.”
It’s been a while since he last missed a Premier League game. How much do you think the team will miss him?
Mauricio: “We need to be positive, we cannot change the past. He got an injury against Sunderland last Sunday and now we need to be positive in his recovery to help him. He is very positive about his recovery, he feels good, he is in a good mood and that is very important, to have all the energy, be focused and try to be available as soon as possible.”
How effective can Vincent Janssen be in Harry’s absence?
Mauricio: “It’s not only his responsibility now, it’s always a team responsibility. He needs to feel free to play and try to help the team now – it’s a big opportunity for him to show his skills. He needs to feel free, play and enjoy the game with nothing to show, only play football. Always a striker needs to feel confidence and feel what it’s like to hit the net. Wednesday was a good opportunity for him to score his first official goal for us and then always it’s important to build confidence. We’ll see. It’s a great opportunity to start from the beginning, maybe, and help the team.”
Can any of the other players who featured on Wednesday force their way into the side?
Mauricio: “I was very happy after the performance (on Wednesday). The team was very good, a lot of young players made their debuts at White Hart Lane and it was an important 90 minutes for a lot of players that have not played too much since the beginning of the season. It’s a good challenge to be competitive and it’s good that all believe that they can challenge for a place in the starting XI in every game and in every competition. That can only improve our level. I’m very happy, very pleased for them and I’m happy to see some younger, different players improve.”
What’s the news on Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele after they went off against Sunderland?
Mauricio: “We need to assess them. Today is the last training session and they are working very well. We’ll see. Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele and Danny Rose are very close to being available. I need to assess them in the last training session today and decide if they can be available. If not this weekend, maybe Tuesday in the Champions League in Russia.”
How important was it that Danny Rose and Kyle Walker signed new contracts and will there be any more contract signings?
Mauricio: “Always it’s important for the Club. It’s very important for the players, too, that they show a big commitment to the Club and that is very important for the future. I promise you, next time I will wear the same (in the official contract signing pictures) – or maybe I will change! I was in a tracksuit for Kyle. The media talk too much about my suit, my position…. But it’s okay!”
You spoke about a lack of passion against Monaco. Do you feel like the players are showing passion now?
Mauricio: “Yes, for some periods in the first half against Monaco we showed a lack of passion and a lack of aggression, we all agree about that, but then I think that we reacted against Sunderland and against Gillingham. Not only did we play well, we played with the right attitude.”
What have you made of the job Aitor Karanka has done at Middlesbrough?
Mauricio: “After two years they’ve achieved promotion to the Premier League, that’s a fantastic job. He’s still very young, I know very well him, we have a very good relationship and I think it’s a fantastic job that he’s doing at Middlesbrough.”
Do you think it’s fair to label Kyle Walker as the best right back in the country?
Mauricio: “Why not?”
Do you think that some of the academy players you fielded on Wednesday night can play a big role in the league as well?
Mauricio: “In time, yes. They are really young, every time we have the possibility to give them the opportunity to play it’s a good chance to show their quality but always we will need time, we need to be careful and that is a very important thing – to care and try to help them, but be sure that with the quality they showed on Wednesday and during pre-season, we have some very talented players for the future. It’s true, football is a different business but it’s important how we handle our academy, the players that come through the academy, how we handle the first team, the squad and how we use our plan to sign players. That is a very hard job but we are in a good way.”
Do you envisage being able to field a whole team of academy products in the future?
Mauricio: “It’s difficult for that to happen…. but why not? Barcelona nearly had a whole squad of players that came through their academy. It’s difficult, it’s not an easy job but this would be a dream for every club.”
How does the forthcoming trip to Moscow in the Champions League affect your plans for Middlesbrough?
Mauricio: “First of all we are focused on this game against Middlesbrough. For us it’s a very important game and then we’ll see. After the game we need to assess every player and take a decision but it’s a very important game for us in Moscow. In our first (Champions League) game at Wembley we know what happened and now we need to try to take the three points in Moscow and try to win our games.”