London: The ankle injury sustained by Jan Vertonghen during Tottenham Hotspur’s 4-0 win over West Bromwich Albion is not as serious as initially feared, manager Mauricio Pochettino said yesterday.
Vertonghen, 29, hobbled from the pitch in tears after injuring himself in last Saturday’s game and initial reports suggested the Belgium international could be sidelined for up to two months. But Pochettino is now expecting the centre-back to return to action in six weeks.
“We expect six weeks — less than our idea in the first moment,” Pochettino told a press conference ahead of his side’s trip to Manchester City tomorrow. “It’s similar, but nothing to do with the old injury he suffered in Euro 2016 (with Belgium). The good thing is in the first moment it looks bad, really bad, but after when we assessed him, the doctor and the scanner showed that it’s not how we think from the beginning.”
Pochettino said he was not planning to bring in cover for Vertonghen during the January transfer window. Spurs sold midfielder Tom Carroll to Swansea City for a reported fee of £5mn on Tuesday, but Pochettino said they were not looking to buy or sell any other players. While he offered an upbeat assessment of Vertonghen’s injury, Pochettino expressed concern over the time it is taking Erik Lamela to come back from a hip problem. The Argentine winger has not played for Spurs in close to three months and has been undergoing treatment in Italy at his former club Roma.
“Tomorrow he will have a scan there,” Pochettino said. “It’s still difficult to give the time that he can come back. We need to wait for tomorrow and then we’ll see what happens. Because there are still some problems and the diagnosis is not sure. We start to be concerned about him because he’s nearly three months and still in a situation that has not moved on.”
Spurs go into tomorrow’s game in second place in the Premier League table, seven points below leaders Chelsea and three points clear of Pep Guardiola’s City, who fell to fifth after losing 4-0 at Everton. If they win at the Etihad Stadium, Spurs will have won seven successive league games for the first time since 1967.
Spurs had finished sixth prior to Pochettino’s appointment as manager in May 2014 and he reflected with pride on the progress they have made since then. “If we go back (to the) first season and if we now start to see and analyse and judge, I think we are 1,000 miles ahead,” said the Argentine.
“But in football, it’s about belief, it’s about faith, it’s about working hard. It’s true that we moved the club on in two and a half years. That was our expectation, to push and move the club quick. Sometimes it’s not possible. But now we are in a very good period.
“All that is related with Tottenham is exciting. You can see here, the new stadium, the team, the squad.
All that happens is very positive. Today it’s looking like we’re the best team in the world. That is very good. The hard work is to keep that feeling. It will be difficult, but we will try.”
It is exactly four years, meanwhile, since Pochettino first arrived in England as Southampton manager. Asked how he had changed in the intervening period, he replied: “I am fat! I was younger than today. I changed a lot. The new lifestyle in England changed me.”
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