Toby Alderweireld is a major doubt for Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League last-16 second leg tie with Juventus, according to manager Mauricio Pochettino.
The centre-back was sidelined for four months earlier this season with a hamstring injury and only returned to action in the FA Cup clash with Newport County at the beginning of February.
With the 28-year-old having missed the Premier League victory over Crystal Palace at the weekend after suffering a slight recurrence of the problem, Pochettino has again reiterated that he will not be pressured into thrusting the player back into crucial fixtures before he is fully fit.
“He [Alderweireld] is still recovering. He is still not participating with the group,” the Argentine said before the cup replay with Rochdale, as reported by Sport 360.
“When you tear a muscle, then you are fit but fit to participate in training,” he continued.
“And then, it’s to be fit to play, and then to compete.
“It’s a different process and sometimes it’s longer, depending on the injury.
“Sometimes, the people create an expectation and then we are the bad guys, when we say ‘no you cannot play’ or we start to build your fitness step by step”
Alderweireld’s central defensive partner Jan Vertonghen will also sit out the FA Cup tie with Dale at Wembley, although it is thought that neither issue is too serious.
The duo have formed the foundation of Spurs’ defence under Pochettino but the former has become increasingly susceptible to injury over recent campaigns.
Nonetheless, Alderweireld’s boss will hope to have him fit and firing for the run-in, which could see Tottenham still competing on three fronts.
The Lilywhites will expect to overcome Rochdale on Wednesday to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals, before Juventus visit Wembley in the Champions League next week with the scores tied at 2-2 from the first leg.
Sandwiched between those games is a Premier League encounter with Huddersfield Town, which Tottenham must win to maintain their push for a top-four finish.