Pochettino denies Vertonghen rift as Spurs target three points

Frank Dalleres
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TOTTENHAM manager Mauricio Pochettino has dismissed suggestions of a falling-out with Jan Vertonghen after the defender was left on the bench for Saturday’s defeat at Manchester City.

The Belgium centre-back has been a key figure at White Hart Lane since a £9.5m transfer from Ajax in 2012 but over the summer was linked with a move away from Spurs, who host Greek side Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League tonight.

Uncertainty over his future grew when he was overlooked for the captaincy amid stalling contract talks, but Pochettino insists the player’s weekend omission was not an indication of Vertonghen having fallen out of favour.

“Jan is an important player for Tottenham,” he said. “I know the players are sometimes affected by comment or rumours and they call me about the rumours but Jan is a very important player for Tottenham and for me.

“Younes Kaboul and Federico Fazio worked very hard and were fresh. I gave them the opportunity to play [at City] but I haven’t changed my view on Jan. I never hear from Jan that he wants to leave or change something.”

Tottenham, who are without a win from their first two Group C games, are without injured defenders Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton and midfielder Nabil Bentaleb.