Pochettino frustrated with Martinez after Belgium boss revealed Vertonghen injury

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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino suggested he was frustrated with Belgium manager Roberto Martinez for publicly discussing Jan Vertonghen’s hamstring injury before Spurs had the chance.

Martinez announced his Belgium squad on Friday and said Vertonghen would miss the next two international breaks, this month and in November.

But Pochettino, speaking later to preview Saturday’s Premier League clash with Cardiff, insisted Spurs do not yet know the full extent of Vertonghen’s injury, with a scan scheduled for Monday.

“We’ll see. It was not a good injury,” Pochettino said.

“We’re so disappointed with that. We’ll see if it’s six weeks or less.

“We hope as soon as possible it can be fixed but we cannot guess.”

Pochettino said it was Spurs’ responsibility to discuss injuries.

The Argentinian added: “Before my press conference you knew about the Vertonghen situation because Roberto told the media in Belgium before us.

“But in the end it’s our player, our Tottenham player. Our Tottenham employee. We arrived here and we needed to explain.

“It’s difficult. They need to call us. If they call us, we are more than open to talk – and give our opinion. But if they don’t call, our door is always open to receive (a call).

“The players are here every day and in the end our job is day-by-day and for them it’s every month.

“I don’t want to create a problem but that is the normal behaviour – that the national team calls you.

“Not that you call and say ‘be careful with this player or that player’. It’s like you don’t want the player to go to the national team.”

Vertonghen sustained the injury in a challenge with Huddersfield striker Laurent Depoitre in Spurs’ 2-0 win but played on until half-time, not realising the severity of the issue.

Pochettino added: “It’s difficult to assess during the game because he didn’t realise how it was and he only felt a big knock from the striker and he thought it was a dead leg.”

Spurs had rested the defender, along with Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose, for the Carabao Cup clash with Watford, after the quartet’s World Cup exertions.

But Vertonghen’s injury in the next game means he joins Christian Eriksen (abdominal), Mousa Dembele (thigh), Dele Alli (hamstring) and Serge Aurier (thigh) in being absent.

Spurs lost 4-2 to Barcelona on Wednesday night and are seeking a third successive league win on Saturday against Neil Warnock’s newly-promoted Cardiff.

Pochettino says the outside perception is Saturday should be an easy game for Spurs, but his players must play at the same level as they did against Barca.

“The most difficult game is the game that everyone believes, outside of the team, that you must win,” Pochettino added.

“For us it’s so important to be motivated at the same level. If not we’re going to struggle.”

Pochettino added that the playing surface at Wembley is not as bad as it looks.

He added: “I don’t want to complain. Maybe from outside it looks not good. Inside it is OK. It’s possible to play football.

“If we don’t play well, it’s not because of the pitch. It’s maybe a lack of quality, but not because of the pitch.”

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Emile Smith Rowe relieved he stuck around at Arsenal after Qarabag show

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Emile Smith Rowe believes his gamble to not go out on loan this season is paying off – even if he is still trying to earn his place in the Arsenal first-team dressing room.

The 18-year-old scored his first senior goal for the Gunners as they beat Qarabag 3-0 in their Europa League Group E clash in Baku on Thursday night.

Smith Rowe struck Arsenal’s second and killed off any chance of a comeback from the hosts, as Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Matteo Guendouzi also grabbed their maiden goals for the club.

An Under-17 World Cup winner with England last summer, Smith Rowe has now made two starts this season – one in the Carabao Cup win over Brentford and here against Qarabag.

He is yet to feature in the Premier League but went on Arsenal’s pre-season tour to Singapore before deciding to stay and fight for first-team appearances rather than leave on loan.

Asked whether it was a gamble not to move away in the summer, Smith Rowe said: “It was a chance I took and I am happy I have taken it because now he (head coach Unai Emery) is really happy with me, he helps me a lot and to get the chances I am getting now is crazy.

“Now I am really enjoying it. I was enjoying it before but I am getting chances and I am so grateful that the gaffer has got faith in me. I just want to keep improving and keep getting minutes.”

Emery praised Smith Rowe’s mentality after the win at the Baku Olympic Stadium, while the player said he was keen to stay put because he wanted to work under the Spaniard.

Although he has made three appearances so far, Smith Rowe revealed he has yet to be welcomed into the first-team changing room at the club’s London Colney training base.

“I am not actually in the changing room at the training ground,” he said.

“But when I come to games, I look around and can’t believe I’m here. It is still surreal. I change separately, find out about 10 minutes before, just run over and train.”

Smith Rowe has seen his fellow England Under-17 World Cup winner Jadon Sancho called up into the senior squad this week after starring at Borussia Dortmund, with another promising youngster in Mason Mount also included.

Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate is willing to give young players a chance and Smith Rowe now harbours ambitions to get there himself.

“The England youngsters are a very talented bunch of lads,” he added.

“I think in the future there will be a lot of youngsters going through to the first team. Hopefully one day I can be part of the team.

“I’ve played with Sancho. I haven’t played with Mason before. But he is a great player as well.

“It just shows that he (Southgate) wants to play the youngsters and England are changing their way of playing now which is getting really good.”

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Man City coach will use different travel route to get to Anfield on Sunday

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Violent scenes: Man City arrive at Anfield last term.

Manchester City will use a different route when they travel to Anfield on Sunday following the violent scenes which greeted their team coach last season.

Merseyside Police have said they are determined to prevent a repeat of the trouble that occurred before the Champions League match between the two sides on April 4.

At least one window was smashed on the journey through streets that were filled with thousands of fans, a number throwing flares and smoke bombs, and a replacement vehicle had to be found for the trip home.

Press Association Sport understands City will approach Liverpool‘s ground from a different direction on Sunday in order to avoid passing the Arkles pub, a popular pre-match meeting point for Liverpool fans.

City have held talks with Merseyside Police about the measures which will be in place this weekend.

The 4.30pm kick-off is eagerly anticipated with City top of the Premier League and Liverpool second, with both teams unbeaten.

Extra police will be on duty at the match, it was announced on Wednesday.

Superintendent Dave Charnock said: “As with any match, we have prepared a comprehensive and appropriate policing operation ahead of Sunday’s game and have liaised with both clubs and their supporter groups.

“This will ensure this game can be enjoyed safely by all as well as minimising any disruption to local residents and the roads, and everyone involved is working hard to ensure there is no repeat of the events that occurred
outside Anfield before the Champions League fixture between the clubs in April.

“There will be additional officers on duty at the ground, both uniformed and plain clothed, and we will have a city centre policing plan in place throughout the day.”

The match coincides with the fourth and final day of the city’s Liverpool’s Dream event, which involves a parade of giant puppets, and the centre of Liverpool is expected to be busier than usual.

Superintendent Charnock added: “We have worked with the Giants event organisers and are deploying extra resources to ensure both match-goers and visitors to the city are kept safe and to smoothly facilitate the movements of
those travelling to and from the game, as well as visitors attending the Giants event.”

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