Dele Alli is the world's best young player, according to Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino

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Mauricio Pochettino and Dele Alli

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino believes Dele Alli is the best young player in the world.

The 21-year-old, who will be expected to lead Spurs in Harry Kane’s absence over the next few weeks, has been criticised for some of his performances this season.

Alli ended a 15-game goal drought when he bagged in the 4-1 win at Bournemouth on Sunday and has been given a glowing endorsement by his boss.

Pochettino says there is no other player in the world at Alli’s age who can match his achievements, a bold statement when you consider the likes of Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Marcus Rashford.

“When you compare him, Dele Alli, 21 years old, with all the players in the world, not only in Europe, in the world, I think he is the best,” the Argentinean said.

“In his age. In his form. Assists and everything. But, and I don’t understand why, there is still that feeling [to criticise him]. For me, Dele Alli, for his age, is the best. That’s it.

“Tell me one better than him, a 21-year-old, all that he achieves. Tell me one. A current player. Maybe you can find similar or better than him?

“For me he is the best because he is my player too, maybe I am not objective but for me, he is amazing, all that he is doing.”

While Alli’s displays this season have come under scrutiny from the fans and media, Pochettino insists only his opinion on the player matters.

“We expect more from him? OK, yes, of course. We want always more.

“But from the day that he makes his debut with us, in Tottenham, for me, he is one of the best in the world.

“He’s a fantastic player. So special player. But that is only my point of view. “Maybe it’s not important for the people, it’s not important for the people who criticise him to listen to me because I am only a simple coach.

“But I promise you, I am the most critical person with my players. But it is difficult to criticise Dele.

“The most important for him is us, if we criticise him. If we are not happy with him, that is what is important for him and we never criticise him.”

Whether Pochettino plays Alli in Tottenham’s FA Cup quarter-final at Swansea on Saturday remains to be seen.

The midfielder was suffering with a tight groin after the win at the Vitality Stadium last week but is fit and has been named in England’s squad for friendlies against Holland and Italy.

“He played a lot of games, international games,” Pochettino added. “Now, we will see for Saturday because in the end, he’s going to play for the national team, and they are not machines.”

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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Liverpool midfielder Emre Can accepts responsibility for crucial lapses in Manchester United defeat

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Can has held his hands up for his part in the defeat to United.

Liverpool midfielder Emre Can has accepted some of the blame for last weekend’s defeat at Manchester United.

The Germany international was criticised by pundits for not providing a covering screen for Dejan Lovren, who twice lost out in aerial challenges with Romelu Lukaku which led to both of United’s goals in the 2-1 victory.

Can has held his hands up and shouldered some of the responsibility.

“It was one of the mistakes we did around the goals,” he told liverpoolfc.com.

“The second balls were not good around the two situations where we conceded. In my position, it was not good from me.

“We have to learn from it and do it better in the next game against Watford.

“We made very easy mistakes when we conceded the goals; we have to defend better as a team there.

“It was a very disappointing result but I think we can learn a lot from it.”

Can was partly responsible for both goals conceded by Liverpool.

Can was partly responsible for both goals conceded by Liverpool.

While the defeat allowed United to pull away in the race for second place in the Premier League they exited the Champions League this week, leaving just Liverpool and Manchester City as England’s representatives in the quarter-finals.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have not lost a match in Europe this season and Can admits as they await Friday’s draw to discover their opponents in the last eight the reality of being able to win the competition is getting closer.

“We don’t go anywhere and say ‘OK, now we will see what happens’. Of course we want to win the games,” he added.

“We are in the quarter-finals and of course we have to play from game to game, but we dream a little bit of winning the Champions League.”

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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino still hopeful of Harry Kane recovery before end of season

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The Spurs manager is hopeful of the star-forward's quick recovery.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said on Thursday he is confident England striker Harry Kane will play again this season, though he refused to put a timescale on his return.

Kane limped off with his side trailing 1-0 at Bournemouth on Sunday, before Pochettino’s men bounced back to win 4-1 and move up to third in the Premier League.

The injury sparked fears of a lengthy absence for England’s key man with just three months to go until the start of the World Cup in Russia.

Kane has suffered lateral ligament damage in his right ankle and Spurs said on Wednesday he would return to training next month.

That prognosis was described as “preliminary” but Pochettino expects to have Kane available for Spurs’ Premier League run-in, with a top-four finish in their sights.

“Yes, of course,” the Argentine said on prospects of a return before the end of the campaign.

“We want to help him recover as soon as possible from his injury, that’s the first step, to be fully recovered from the injury. Then we will see, it’s two or three weeks, we don’t know. We need to assess every day.”

“Disappointing to be out until next month but injuries are part of the game,” Kane tweeted on Wednesday. “Will do everything I can to get back out there asap (as soon as possible).”

Spurs, knocked out of the Champions League last week by Italian champions Juventus, travel to Swansea for an FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

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