After Tottenham Hotspur defeated Dortmund at the Signal Iduna in Champions League action to win their group, that essentially rendered tomorrow’s home match against APOEL meaningless. It also implied that a highly rotated squad would take the pitch at Wembley Stadium in this final match as Mauricio Pochettino takes advantage of a rare opportunity to rest key players.
That’s exactly what we’re going to see. Pochettino confirmed in a press conference on Tuesday that Spurs will rest a number of first team regulars, and that academy products and U23 squad members Kaziah Sterling and Luke Amos would both feature in the match day squad against APOEL. Poch’s comments were later confirmed by the club’s Twitter account.
“I think they both deserved to be involved. My relationship with the academy, John McDermott [academy head] and Dean Rastrick [academy manager] is fantastic and with all the coaching staff.
“It's always our decision and when we've lost some players from the first team and need some young players, of course we know them very well and the contact is every day.
“Kazaiah and Luke Amos, they are working very well and they behave so good. That is why they deserve it, they have the quality as well in the position that we are looking to try to help the team tomorrow. We needed a midfielder, like Luke Amos, and another striker, like Kazaiah Sterling.”
I think just about everyone expects Fernando Llorente to start the match up top for Spurs, but it looks like Sterling will be the reserve striker on the bench. We don’t yet know what Poch’s plans for Luke Amos, a midfielder, will yet be.
But what about Marcus Edwards? The highly rated attacking midfielder has been notably absent from the first team discussion this season after making his first team debut last year against Gillingham, and was even compared to Lionel Messi by Pochettino in the book “Brave New World” by Guillem Balague. But when asked, Pochettino seemed to walk back those comments and imply that Edwards needs more time.
“It’s about performance. Maybe I made a mistake because I believed it was positive and he was going to take it in a positive way. It’s about performance. When you’re young, sometimes you need more time.
“Sometimes it looks like it’s time to have the possibility to play, or sometimes you stop your evolution. We still trust in him, that he can be important. Of course it’s up to him after that to show us and everyone here at Tottenham that he deserves to be in the first team and deserves to have the possibility.”
Pochettino also said that Georges-Kevin N’Koudou will feature, noting that his absence from the Premier League match day squads recently have been due to him needing time to develop as a player and show effort in training.
“I am happy with him in the last few weeks. He started to realised that he needed to improve in many things. It's true that he's so young. I wanted to give him before an opportunity before but maybe it was impossible. Maybe tomorrow he will have the possibility to play and to prove that he can help the team and start to grow up.
“I think when the players are so young, always they need different timings and to realise how they need to work. I think he's a great guy. Nothing to complain about his behaviour and everything because he's a lovely kid. But in professional football in the last few weeks he's shown he should have the possibility to play and show his quality.”
Pochettino is expected to rest key first team players such as Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, and Hugo Lloris, but one player who will 100% start the match tomorrow is Dele Alli, who missed the opening three Champions League group stage games due to suspension. Pochettino, who attended the press conference with Dele beside him, confirmed it.
“Yes, Dele will start. We are going to rest some players, rotate the starting XI, but Dele is going to play. He missed three Champions League games. He needs to play. He is fresh to play.”
The match kicks off Wednesday, December 6 at 7:45 p.m. BST (2:45 p.m. ET).