Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is happy with the condition of his World Cup stars ahead of the Premier League opener at Newcastle.
Spurs had nine players involved in the final stages of this summer’s tournament in Russia – more than any other club – and they only returned to pre-season training on Monday.
Pochettino has revealed that Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Toby Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris are at differing stages of fitness, but some will feature at St James’ Park.
“I am so happy in the way they come back to training on Monday,” the boss said. “I am really, really, really, really, really happy.
“I am so proud about them because they were very focused on trying to arrive in a very good condition.
“Of course the circumstances are completely different from each other, and the profiles of the players are completely different.
“Some need more time to get fit than others. That’s normal. Some players will be fit to start the game. Some will be fit to be on the bench.
“Maybe some players will stay here to try to reach the level, to give more time, for different reasons – because maybe we don’t want to take risks, because they need more preparation, because the background or history of their injuries is different.
“That is why for us it’s so important for us to be right in our judgement now and take the best decision and then to provide the team a very good balance to try to be competitive against Newcastle.
“We’re going to be competitive. I promise you I’m so happy in the way everyone came back, so focused, so happy to join us again.”
Kane’s preparations for the season have been further hit with the arrival of his second child on Wednesday.
However, Pochettino says the impending birth helped Kane get in better shape early on and he should play a part at Newcastle.
“Harry is focused, it’s true that the new baby helped him to stay here and not travel for holidays,” the boss added.
“It was quiet and calm and relaxed and waiting for the new baby.
“He was training here a few days before Monday and has an advantage on the rest. He was here because he was waiting for the baby, not on holiday in Vegas, Los Angeles.
“That is why I said before that every single circumstance is different and we need to understand from them. “
The Brazilian had a scan on a muscle injury on Thursday but although that came back clear the midfielder was sent home from training after feeling unwell.
Joe Gomez is expected to be fit after missing Tuesday’s friendly against Torino but fellow defenders Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip are unlikely to be ready while World Cup finalist Dejan Lovren will not be considered having only returned from extended leave at the weekend.
Provisional squad: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Milner, Keita, Salah, Firmino, Mane, Karius, Clyne, Phillips, Moreno, Henderson, Lallana, Fabinho, Grujic, Sturridge, Shaqiri, Solanke.
The new Premier League campaign kicks off again with Manchester City aiming to retain their dominance, while promoted clubs Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham will all be out to hold their own.
Here, we look at some key talking points ahead of the opening round of top-flight fixtures.
World Cup hangover
Football may not have come home this summer, but just how quickly the likes of England captain Harry Kane and the rest of the Premier League’s World Cup stars can focus on club matters again remains to be seen. Burnout will be a worry, certainly over the winter months, and after lifting the greatest prize of them all in Moscow on July 15, an opening-day trip to Newcastle might not provide much inspiration for Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Pep Guardiola’s men swept everyone aside last season on the way to amassing 100 points in their record-breaking Premier League campaign. While City might not hit such heights again this season, the bar has been set and it is up to their title rivals to offer a sustained challenge. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho will hope his squad – despite claiming to not have made enough signings during the transfer window – can raise their game and look to quieten down the noisy neighbours.
Will the Reds cash in?
Jurgen Klopp is not concerned with critics who suggest he is looking to buy Liverpool’s way to the title, but with more than £170million spent in the summer – including a short-lived world record fee for a goalkeeper of £65m to bring Brazilian Alisson Becker to Anfield from Roma – the pressure is now firmly on the German’s team to deliver. While Europe will again offer Liverpool an outlet to entertain, getting themselves back into the Premier League shake-up is the priority, both in the stands and the boardroom.
In Unai we trust
After 22 years with Arsene Wenger at the helm, Arsenal enter into a new chapter this season with head coach Unai Emery. The Gunners have improved the defence with some positive summer transfer business. However, the fixture list has not been kind, with the visit of champions City on Sunday followed by a trip to Chelsea. No points from Emery’s opening two games is a distinct possibility – and one which would give the divided fanbase something new to rant about.
New kids on the block
Battling to get out of the Championship was hard enough, but Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham will all have to raise their game to yet another level when taking on the elite. All have bolstered their squads, and should expect to again in January, but whatever the next 38 games bring, you can bet the fans cannot wait for kick-off.
Provided by Press Association Sport