Ange Postecoglou praises ‘professional’ Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

Ange Postecoglou has talked up the professionalism of Tottenham midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg ahead of his anticipated first Premier League start of the season.

Hojbjerg is expected to be drafted into the Spurs line-up for the visit of Fulham on Monday due to Yves Bissouma’s one-match ban for his red card at Luton.

Denmark international Hojbjerg was heavily linked with a move away from Tottenham this summer and Fulham registered an interest in the 28-year-old on transfer deadline day, but no switch to the London club or Atletico Madrid materialised.

While Hojbjerg has only started once this season in the Carabao Cup, he has been introduced in seven of Spurs’ eight league fixtures and become a key figure off the bench for his new head coach.

“I don’t think there was any time during the transfer window where I thought Pierre would move,” Postecoglou insisted.

“The discussions I had with him were that he was here and wanted to contribute, he wanted to be part of what we were building.

“It is obvious someone that has played regularly would have wanted to play more but ultimately our performances have been strong and he has had to bide his time.

“He has also been very important in a lot of the games that we’ve won late or had to shore up late. He has been one of the people who has helped us and it is not like he hasn’t contributed at all. He’s been a really important part for us.

“We wouldn’t be in this position if we were just reliant on our starting XI.

“It is something we impress on all of the guys that as disappointed as you are at not starting, it doesn’t mean you are not playing. You are still playing at some point and what you do with those minutes will help us be successful and push your own cause.

“With Pierre, he is a professional and very determined to win a spot in the team. He presents himself well every day and over a 38-game season all of these guys will get an opportunity at some point. What they do with that is up to them.

“In the meantime, what is important is if they want to keep getting opportunities, they have to train well and when they do play, whether they start or not, they contribute to the team.”

Hojbjerg continues to be linked with a move away from Tottenham, but could earn further opportunities in the coming months.

Spurs will lose Pape Sarr of Senegal and Mali international Bissouma at the start of 2024 for the Africa Cup of Nations, which runs between January 13 and February 11.

That is a problem for Postecoglou to worry about in the future, but his immediate concern is facing Marco Silva’s Fulham without Bissouma, one of Tottenham’s players of the season.

He added: “(I’m) realistic enough to know you’re not going to run with the same XI and every week you wrestle with what the best sort of line up is going to be for you; fitness, form, the way they’re training, the opposition.

“With Bissouma missing out this game, we had to adjust without him at Luton which I thought we did awfully well with 10-men.

“We’ve got some options. Certainly Pierre is a ready-made replacement.

“He’s been training really hard, he’s obviously probably wanted to be playing more because he’s pretty much been a constant for the last two to three years, but when he has come on for us he’s done really well.

“For me he’s the logical one to come in but we’ve got some sessions left.”