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Playing Alderweireld would risk his career, says Pochettino

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has told centre-half Toby Alderweireld that he would be placing the Belgium defender’s career in peril if he were to select him for Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 clash with Juventus.

Alderweireld has been left out ofTottenham’s travelling party to Turin despite making his return following three months out with a hamstring injury and playing 90 minutes against Newport during last week’s FA Cup fourth round replay.

Pochettino also omitted the 28-year-old, who is yet to agree a new deal at Spurs even though talks started more than a year ago, out of his matchday squad for Saturday’s north London derby. Alderweireld had declared himself fully fit for the clash.

Alderweireld is expected to play a significant part in Tottenham’s FA Cup showdown at Rochdale on Sunday, but Pochettino was adamant that exposing the defender this evening could plunge his long-term recovery into jeopardy.

“He is 28 and it was a massive injury that we need to manage and be cautious with because we cannot put his career at risk,” said Pochettino. “To play this type of game you need to be 200 per cent.

“Competing is not the same as training and that’s why we are caring about him with our plan. When he is in condition to play at a high level again, he can compete for a place in the starting XI.

“When you can’t play in a game like this it is difficult to accept. I can understand that and we are frustrated too.”

Pochettino has also opted to leave fellow defenders Juan Foyth and Kyle Walker-Peters in London but aside from those two and Alderweireld he has a fully-fit squad for the first-leg clash against Juve, who are yet to concede a goal in 2018.

Argentina forward Paulo Dybala, meanwhile, who has scored 17 goals in all competitions for the Old Lady this season, is in contention to feature after training yesterday, having been sidelined since early January with a hamstring problem.

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