Toby Alderweireld is set to be left out of Tottenham Hotspur’s trip to face Juventus for Tuesday night’s Champions League last-16 encounter, reports The Telegraph.
The centre-half made his comeback after three months out with a hamstring injury in last week’s FA Cup fourth-round replay triumph over Newport County, but did not feature in the matchday squad when Spurs took on Arsenal in the North London derby over the weekend.
The news of his omission is likely to cast fresh doubt over his future at the club, with the Belgian still to agree upon a new contract.
Alderweireld’s current deal expires in 2019 and whilst the club have the option to extend it by a further year, he could activate a £25 million release clause next summer.
That figure is now some way below the 28-year-old’s market value and the Lilywhites’ hierarchy are keen to tie him down to new terms.
Since moving to Tottenham from Atletico Madrid in 2015, Alderweireld has gone on to become one of the leading central defenders in the Premier League and has formed a strong partnership with compatriot Jan Vertonghen.
Whilst he is undoubtedly still a key man for manager Mauricio Pochettino, the Argentine has a number of options in the heart of his backline and as such clearly does not feel rushed to bring the former Southampton man back into the team.
Davinson Sanchez partnered Vertonghen in the win against Arsenal and the two were relatively untroubled, besides a late flurry from the otherwise disappointing Gunners.
Youngster Juan Foyth has shown composure in his limited appearances to date and Eric Dier is also capable of dropping back from holding midfield.
Despite his undoubted ability, Alderweireld is susceptible to injury problems and Pochettino seems to be exercising caution by easing him back into first-team affairs.
Having played just once since October, it would be a risk to throw him into the side to face Juventus and instead it has been deemed more productive for him to stay in England and work on his fitness.
If he gets game time over the next few weeks, there is no reason to think Alderweireld will not be involved for the return leg in early March.