Selection dilemma for Pochettino as trophy bid looms for Spurs

Ross McLean
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Mauricio Pochettino has decisions to make ahead of his side’s showdown with Fiorentina
TOTTENHAM boss Mauricio Pochettino has admitted the conundrum of juggling resources is preying on his mind as his side prepare to face Fiorentina in the second leg of their last-32 Europa League tie tonight.

Spurs have reached the last 16 in the past two seasons but face a potentially difficult assignment having travelled to Florence with the aggregate score locked at 1-1 after last week’s draw at White Hart Lane.

The backdrop to the fixture is Sunday’s Capital One Cup final against Chelsea and the opportunity for Tottenham to end a seven-year trophy drought in a repeat of the 2008 Wembley showdown, which Spurs won 2-1.

Pochettino admits rotating his squad and resting players with Sunday’s match coming just 72 hours after facing Fiorentina is tempting, although the Argentine accepts that such a strategy is open to attack.

“The problem is that the decision always becomes about the result you get,” said Pochettino. “If I rotate and then we win on Sunday, I’m a genius. I may rest some players and play others and win against Chelsea in the final.

“But if we lose and lose in the final, I am a very bad manager and I don’t think that’s fair. When you take a decision, sometimes you are right or wrong, this is football. But afterwards I’m still the same manager.

“The most important thing is to be clear, to analyse and identify that tomorrow [tonight] is our first final. We need to decide the team after we analyse every case and every player and then afterwards it’s about who is fully recovered and fully fit.

“We will try to win and play better than Fiorentina and, after, analyse the game and try to put the best team out for the final on Sunday.”

Top scorer Harry Kane and midfielder Christian Eriksen were used sparingly in Tottenham’s Premier League clash with West Ham on Sunday and are set for recalls against Viola, who are fifth in Serie A and unbeaten in 10 matches.

Tottenham tend to return to London in the immediate aftermath of European fixtures but with their League Cup final with Chelsea in mind, the club have opted to remain in Italy until Friday afternoon.

“It’s a very busy period. It is difficult to recover the players so we decided to stay here in Florence after the game,” added Pochettino.

“We will train here before flying back to London. I think it is very important to sleep well after the game, to eat well and to recover. On Sunday is another final so for that we need to provide our players with all the best things to arrive fresh.”

Liverpool, meanwhile, travel to Besiktas with a one-goal advantage but without stand-in skipper Jordan Henderson due to a minor ankle injury and rested playmaker Philippe Coutinho, who has made 19 successive starts.

Everton are set to welcome back midfield duo Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar for their Goodison Park showdown with Swiss side Young Boys, where only a monumental capitulation will prevent the Toffees proceeding after a 4-1 first-leg success.