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Spurs v Bayer Leverkusen - Mauricio's press conference

Posted on 1 November 2016  - 17:11

Mauricio Pochettino spoke to the media this afternoon (Tuesday, November 1) ahead of Wednesday night’s UEFA Champions League clash with Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley. Here’s a look at some of the things he had to say…

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What’s the latest on Harry Kane’s fitness after he was pictured in training today?
Mauricio Pochettino: “He’s not available for tomorrow, not on the bench. It’s good because you can see him doing work now with the team and being involved with some exercise but for tomorrow he is not ready. He had half the training session with the team and then it was a specific training session for him. For Toby (Alderweireld) it was the same – a specific training session.”

Was today the first time Harry trained with the group?
Mauricio: “No. Yesterday he was involved in some drills with the whole group, today he increased the participation with the team and after tomorrow we expect that he can be involved in the whole training session.”

What’s the team’s mentality going into the Bayer Leverkusen game tomorrow?
Mauricio: “I think it’s important for us because we understand that the game will be key. It‘s very important to win the game, to take the three points but in the same way we understand that Bayer Leverkusen are a very good team, they proved in the first game they were tough opposition, they have very good players and it will be tough but we are conscious that we need to take the three points if we are to go to the next round. It’s a very important game for us.”

Has the team’s defensive form been a surprise to you this season?
Mauricio: “Last season we were strong too and we showed that we worked very hard to keep our goal safe. This season we’ve improved a little bit in that area but we need to improve in our offensive situations and we need to be more clinical. All the stats are saying that we are the team that creates more chances but we need to be more determined and aggressive in the last third. Football is about different situations that happen. It’s true that in the last few weeks after international duty it was difficult for us to score or be more clinical in front of goal. We are creating maybe the same chances as before but it’s true that we need to improve our percentage of scoring. We are talking about and working on that but it’s an area that we need to improve a lot.”

Do you think the other players can be mentally boosted by Harry’s impending return?
Mauricio: “In the last few seasons he was very important for the team. He is one of the best strikers in Europe and now he is very close to being back – that’s always important for the team.”

Will you change anything in your approach tomorrow compared to the last game at Wembley?
Mauricio: “(Last time) it wasn’t a problem with the approach, only that the game was difficult from the beginning, we made some mistakes and we allowed Monaco to score. We conceded two goals very early in the game but we played well. These are things that can happen in football but we cannot blame Wembley. I think that we need to be clever now, to know that we need to play with intensity from the first moment of the game. We need to improve from the last game at Wembley. Our mistake was the problem against Monaco, not Wembley.”

Will Erik Lamela be back tomorrow after missing Saturday’s game through illness?
Mauricio: “Lamela had a problem today and maybe he is out for tomorrow. We need to assess him. It was a small problem with his hip during the training session and he is not sure to be involved tomorrow.”

How important is the month of November with the games that you have coming up?
Mauricio: “Every month is important. It will be tough in November too but always it’s important. After next week, that is the last international break until March and I think it will be important to be all together and have time to work. We expect that we will have a very busy period but then we can find a way to work a little bit, improve in the areas we need to improve and it will be good to stay all together. It’s too early because it’s not a decisive month to settle the objectives. For me, the Premier League will be very competitive and it’s not much of a gap in between us all after 10 games. I think you can see today after 10 games the challenge and objectives that every club will fight for in the future. Always in football you must win games to be in a position to fight and because of that, every game will be very important.”

Do you think other teams are inspired by Wembley when they visit and how important is it that something similar doesn’t happen tomorrow?
Mauricio: “There are many things that we cannot change. It’s true that White Hart Lane is our home and always it’s difficult for opponents to come to White Hart Lane and take a positive result. It’s a big motivation for the opponent when you come to England and you play at Wembley. It’s exciting because it was for me. To come here to England and play at Wembley was a fantastic experience but it must be a big moment of motivation for us and inspire us because there are 90,000 people that support us and are behind us – it has to be a big problem for our opponent. It’s in our mind to create that energy, it is our responsibility to create that atmosphere. With Monaco it was all new for us - the changing room was different, the players’ families' area. Now it will be completely different. It was all new but now we know we are at Wembley, we know how we need to arrive, the parking, our habits – now it’s completely different. I hope that it’s completely different in the result too.”

DON’T MISS THE OFFICIAL MATCHDAY PROGRAMME FOR OUR LATEST CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TEST!

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Secure a souvenir of our UEFA Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley on Wednesday night by picking up the official matchday programme, which includes...
- Feature interview with goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris
- Mauricio Pochettino’s exclusive column
- Ex-midfielder Danny Murphy with a fascinating insight on Mousa Dembele in 'Centre of Attention'
- A nostalgic look at our matches at Wembley in the 1980s and 1990s
- Exclusive interview with both clubs' former striker Dimitar Berbatov
- A look back at Jurgen Klinsmann's farewell match in Germany
- The latest from our development squad, academy and Ladies sides
... and much more!

This A4, 100-page edition will be on sale for £5 at Wembley on Wednesday.

Sample it now for free with our 12-page online preview edition...