TOTTENHAM manager Mauricio Pochettino insists he omitted defender Danny Rose from tonight’s trip to Serbia purely with playing time in mind.
The left-back was subjected to racist abuse while on duty for the England Under-21 side in the eastern European state two years ago and was sent off for his subsequent angry reaction.
Spurs kick-off their Europa League Group C campaign away to Partizan Belgrade tonight and Rose is among a number of high profile absentees. Yet Pochettino is adamant his decision to leave the 24-year-old in north London is not to ease any potential tension.
“I know about the problems two years ago, but they are not the reason he is not here now,” said the former Argentina star.
“We know the situation but it is not the reason. He didn’t ask to be left out. The decision was based on football. All my selection decisions are based on football always.
“Two years ago is a long time. My decision was simply to give him a rest down to him being tired after Sunderland.
“Before that he was with the national team for two weeks. It’s always a stress to go with the national team.
“We also have a big squad and it allows other players to play and for me to see another player.”
Along with Rose, newly appointed captain Younes Kaboul has been left behind with Emmanuel Adebayor, Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli.
The exclusions could lead to a start for 18-year-old Serbian defender Milos Veljkovic. And Pochettino admits he has been taking tips from his teenage star.
“We used his information to our benefit,” added Pochettino.
“Milos is a young and very good player and maybe he will have the chance to play.
“It is normal that he has information about Belgrade from his team-mates in the national team, he knows about the club and history.
“We will use it, not too much, but we will use it.”