Mauricio Pochettino expects Harry Kane to return to the Tottenham Hotspur starting line-up for Thursday’s match against West Ham United, but admitted he will rotate and fully use his squad as the side now face a second game in 48 hours.
The top-scoring striker began Tuesday’s 2-0 win away to Swansea City on the bench after an illness, but did come on to set up Dele Alli’s clinching goal. Pochettino is now hopeful he will start at Wembley on Thursday.
“Yes, we’ll see. I think our decision was good because you can see on the pitch, it was difficult to run [with the heavy rain], after a few days with antibiotics. I think, yes, we hope now is going well and can be ready for West Ham. But, the same [situation], we need to see him and decide.”
Spurs played through awful conditions and a very heavy pitch at Swansea on Tuesday, and Pochettino said it will inform his decisions on Thursday’s starting line-up.
“It will be difficult for the players. We are going to rest, 48 hours resting until the whistle. We are going to maybe rotate, make some changes, to give some fresh legs to the team. And now is the opportunity to play with the squad. Now it's an important opportunity to play with all.”
There had been criticism of the schedule after the postponement of this fixture from New Years Eve gave Spurs and West Ham almost a week’s break when everyone else was playing fixtures in quick succession, but they now face two games in 48 hours. Pochettino said it does not matter so much in this context, because both sides are in the same situation.
“Look, I know very well how is this business. It was impossible to play before [talking about reasons why West Ham game was postponed to Thursday]. I think you know why. Some other teams play in the past, Boxing Day then two days later... look, I am not going to complain. I think we are going to arrive in the same conditions like West Ham and there is nothing to say about this.
"We are going to arrive both in the same conditions. Who deserve to win is going to win. That is why we need to rest, to take good decision, and pick the 11 players with full energy to try to win.”
The team could thereby be someway similar to Spurs’ last match against West Ham, when a makeshift League Cup side saw Pochettino’s team go 2-0 up only to then lose 3-2. The Argentine however insisted that was still a strong team, and the result was merely down to complacency.
“It is not revenge. It's a game so important for us. If you now look at the past, our starting XI when we play in Carabou Cap, all were starting XI in the Premier League or Champions League, all play. The problem was it was 2-0 at half-time, and we - all, because I need to put myself inside - believe the game was over, but it was 3-2 in the end.
“That was our massive mistake, but now it's Premier League. We need to win, because we need to fight for the top four, to be there, in the table, and it's so important three points. It's a derby, it's so special, and we are going to arrive in the same condition. Only we need to play, and performance in the way that we want performance.
“I sign on to finish half-time 2-0 [this time]! Then we need to be clever, and play like 0-0 and score two more. But no. I think will be a very tough game, because West Ham is improving a lot with David Moyes, and I think it will be very tough. Always in a derby the games are very difficult. It [the Carabao Cup] wasn't at the bottom [of our priorities], I promise. Now it's on the bottom because it's gone.
“Review your... on internet, I don’t know where... our starting XI and maybe you change your opinion. It wasn't on the bottom. We wanted to win, but it was impossible because we played so well the first half and the second half we played so bad and we concede three goals. That was the truth, but we took the competition very seriously and with the idea to win and go to the next stage.”