It would’ve been easy for Mauricio Pochettino to anchor Juan Foyth to the bench after his Premier League debut. The 20-year old Argentinian center back had a horror ending to his first league match last weekend against Wolves, giving up two penalties and eventually being shunted into midfield for Davinson Sanchez.
Instead the Tottenham Hotspur manager put his young defender straight back into the fire on Saturday against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, and was handsomely rewarded for his faith. Foyth scored the match’s only goal on a rebound header and put in a solid defensive effort, winning the match and the man of the match award for his efforts. Final score: Juan-nil.
Afterwards, Pochettino praised Foyth, and said that he he knew that Foyth would learn from his mistakes and grow.
“I’m very pleased. We were talking a lot during the week that that is football. [Mistakes] can happen when you are a centre-back, and I was a centre-back, you are [sometimes] involved in this type of situation. But the confidence and the trust is massive from the club, from us, from his team-mates and no doubt that his potential and [Foyth’s] quality will be very helpful for the team.
“Today he showed great personality and he played so well, like one week ago. I’m happy for him because it’s a massive victory and for him to feel that he’s a Premier League player and help the team to win, I think it’s a massive feeling. Now he waits for the international break to share with the national team in Argentina. It’s a fantastic moment for him.
“No, no doubts [about playing him]. Of course he was very disappointed because he felt responsible, but that is our job, the coaching staff and the people around [the club]. We have experience in this type of situation, we were players. Look, we laugh about that situation because to improve you need to make mistakes. Only by making mistakes can you feel what it means and then that is going to help you not to repeat the same situation. He is so clever and he has a lot of potential. His quality I have no doubt of and he only needs time and games to improve and show his real quality.”
It’s a good thing that Pochettino has faith in Juan Foyth, because he will probably need to rely on him for the next few weeks. Jan Vertonghen continues to be on Spurs’ long-term injury list and Davinson Sanchez missed the win over Palace with what the club called a hamstring injury. There were no further details or any hints about how much time Sanchez might miss, but with Eric Dier barely healed (and desperately needed in midfield), it leaves Pochettino with just two healthy central defenders - Foyth, and Toby Alderweireld.
However, if there were any lingering doubts about Foyth’s ability to perform at the Premier League level, Pochettino didn’t betray them. In fact, it seems that Poch thinks all he really needs now is experience and match minutes.
“[He’s] intelligent, smart. He’s so mature. I think he’s a player who for me has all the potential with experience of games one day to be one of the best centre-backs in Europe.”
Foyth was one of three Tottenham players called up to the Albiceleste along with Erik Lamela and Paulo Gazzaniga. Argentina play two friendlies next week — both at home, and both against Mexico, and it’s possible that Foyth could also make his senior international debut in the near future.