First of all, how worried were you after what happened to your former player, Ryan Mason, last weekend?
Mauricio Pochettino: “We were in Barcelona on Sunday watching the game and we saw the situation live. Since then we’ve kept in touch with his family and his girlfriend Rachel. It was a difficult moment, we were very worried about the action like all the people that know him. The action was hard and was difficult but the good thing now is that he is recovering well, making a lot of progress and we will go after this press conference to see him to see how he is doing.”
Who will go to visit him from the club?
Mauricio: “We are going now with Jesus (Perez, assistant manager) and John McDermott. It was impossible (to go earlier), we arrived very, very late from Barcelona yesterday but now we have the opportunity to go and it will be fantastic to see him. The players are in touch with him, his family, his dad, his girlfriend. The squad sent a video from Barcelona to him. He is a special player to us, to me personally and he grew up here in Tottenham. He is a person that we love.”
Do you know what the latest is on his condition?
Mauricio: “I have only had contact with his family and all the staff too. I know that he is making some progress but now we will see him in a couple of hours. It’s important to know how he is and share some time with him. It will be fantastic for him and for us to try to encourage him.”
Based on your time working with him, what can you tell us about his mentality?
Mauricio: “He is very strong and he is a player where one of his strengths is to be strong in his mind, his mentality and his personality. He’s suffered a lot of injuries in the past but it’s true that he can recover as soon as possible. He is strong, he has people around him, his family that help him and of course we will try to push him to recover as soon as possible.”
Onto team news – we understand Toby Alderweireld is out for Saturday. Can he be available on Tuesday for the trip to Sunderland?
Mauricio: “Yes, we hope so for Sunderland. For Saturday, no, but he is working hard. It was more of a precaution than an injury. It wasn’t an injury because the scan showed no issues, only now he has to build his fitness. Be sure that for Saturday, no, but we hope he will be available for Tuesday.”
When are you expecting Erik Lamela to return?
Mauricio: “Tomorrow we expect that he will be here and in the moment that he arrives (we need) to assess him and try to see how he is. The last scan in Rome showed no issues, there is still pain in his hip joint but now it’s important to meet us, stay here with the group and (for us to) try to push him to build his fitness to help him to achieve the level of the team and be available as soon as possible to try to help the team.”
Erik sent out some tweets this week about his absence. What is his mindset like at the moment?
Mauricio: “It’s a lot of rumours. He asked to go to Rome to try to change the place and maybe inspire him to recover quicker but you cannot control all the rumours. You never know where the rumours come from but he is very happy, we keep in touch every day. Maybe he was a little bit worried about some comments, for that (reason) he expressed his feelings at that moment via social media but he is very happy here, he is very focused and he has suffered a lot because he is a person that likes to play football and enjoys when he is on the pitch with the ball. All the rumours don’t help him in the end but we try to advise him to only be focused, try to recover as soon as possible and forget what’s happening around (him).”
An application has been made for Wembley to stage more games at full capacity next season. Does it excite you that the club could break the Premier League attendance record at the national stadium if you go there next season?
Mauricio: “Yes, of course it’s exciting. It can show how big our club is. I think we showed how the club is in the Champions League games with nearly 90,000 fans there but yes, it will be fantastic next season if we can achieve that capacity.”
What do you know about Wycombe and their striker, Ade Akinfenwa?
Mauricio: “Always it’s difficult. I think the beauty of the FA Cup is that clubs in League Two like Wycombe believe that they can beat us because that is how the FA Cup is and the belief that it gives the team is massive. We know the striker (Akinfenwa), we know Dominic Gape who was a holding midfielder that played with us when he was very young at Southampton, we have some references but always it’s up to us. If we are ready to compete, be sure that we can go to the next round but always it’s important to take this type of game seriously and be ready to compete. We will play 11 v 11, for them it’s their World Cup Final – maybe the most important game in their history – and for that we need to stay at a very good level – more than physical, a mental level to compete and be ready. That is the key for us on Saturday.”
How do you feel about your former club, Southampton, reaching the EFL Cup Final?
Mauricio: “I’m very happy for many people that are there, the people that we keep a very good relationship with. It was my club and I’m happy for that. It’s true that I know many players at Liverpool too like Lallana, Lovren and Clyne so for one side I’m happy, for another side, sad.”
Do you have to make any special provisions to defend against Ade Akinfenwa?
Mauricio: “No, nothing special. In the end you need to have some precautions with a player like him but I think in the Premier League you can meet different teams with different players like him. It’s true that he’s a good player, a strong player, big, but we need to be strong.”
We understand that Harry Kane will miss Saturday’s game because of a groin problem. Is that a serious thing?
Mauricio: “In the second half against Manchester City it was a small problem and Saturday is not a moment to take a risk. He was training in Barcelona next to the group but we hope that for Tuesday it’s not a problem and he will be available.”
Can you update us on Marcus Edwards’ recovery from injury and could he have some involvement against Wycombe?
Mauricio: “Today was his first training session with the group and we’ll see. First of all we need to see him tomorrow and after that we’ll decide. It’s true that it’s a little bit far to the level of the group but it’s his first day today with the group, now he needs to build his fitness and try to achieve the same level as the whole group.”
DON’T MISS SATURDAY’S OFFICIAL MATCHDAY PROGRAMME!
Pick up your copy of our official matchday programme at the Wycombe Wanderers FA Cup tie on Saturday.
It’s £3.50 for 100 pages, including...
- Wycombe wanderings: Meet the players who connect the two clubs and recall our previous friendly meetings with Wycombe
- Main feature interview with Kevin Wimmer
- Mauricio Pochettino's exclusive column
- Interview with ex-Spur and former Wycombe boss Peter Taylor
- Cameron Carter-Vickers profiled in 'Centre of Attention'
- All the info on Wycombe's squad and a chat with their former goalkeeper Martin Taylor
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