Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has warned his players that the club’s ever-growing injury list will be no excuse for Champions League failure against Apoel Nicosia on Tuesday.
Playmaker Christian Eriksen became the seventh Spurs player to be ruled out of the clash when he fell ill on Sunday and was unable to travel to Cyprus with the remainder of the squad.
Eriksen joins suspended duo Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli, and injury victims Mousa Dembele, Danny Rose, Victor Wanyama and Erik Lamela in missing the showdown, leaving Pochettino with a selection conundrum.
“It’s not an excuse to have some players out of the squad,” said the Argentinian. “Christian is a very important player for us. It’s true we will miss him but we need to move on, we need to find a way to play and perform and try to win.
“He is ill, he stays in London, and we trust the player who comes into his position. I am not a manager who cries because a player cannot play. It’s about the team, the squad, quality, effort and we have a very strong squad to try to win.”
Despite his insistence that his players will be afforded no easy pardon should they fail to build on their victory against Borussia Dortmund in their Group H opener, Pochettino is not expecting a smooth ride.
“Our supporters might expect us to win but we know very well the Champions League is very tough and this is a tough game waiting for us,” added Pochettino. “Apoel are very tough. I watched them in their local league and against Real Madrid [during the first game week].
“They have good players. It is important to take the game and respect them because we need to win. It’s so important. First we need to fight and play better than them and show we deserve the three points.”