Mauricio Pochettino admits that Christian Eriksen may be struggling with a touch of mental fatigue after a busy accumulation of matches for both club and country, yet refuses to blame general physical tiredness for Tottenham Hotspur's disappointing recent form.
Although confirmed as winners of a tough Champions League group containing Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, Spurs dropped out of the Premier League's top four last weekend following a comeback draw at West Bromwich Albion and have now won just one of their last six domestic matches following Tuesday night's (28 November) 2-1 defeat at Leicester City.
Pochettino baulked at the rather bizarre theory that the October release of his book "Brave New World" had negatively impacted upon Tottenham's results and was similarly dismissive of suggestions that weariness on behalf of his influential players had contributed to a regression in their level of performance - with perhaps one notable exception.
"You know, a player like Christian Eriksen maybe can be a little bit tired - but mental more than physical, because in the last international duty he played two amazing games to try to qualify [Denmark] for the World Cup, and he cannot rest, he cannot stop," Pochettino told reporters at a press conference held before Saturday's short trip to Watford, per football.london.
"Maybe he struggles a little bit but his condition is fantastic because after every game the stats are unbelievable from him.
"But maybe I can agree that there may be some mental tiredness. It's maybe possible. But other players? I think no. Dele Alli wasn't involved in the first three Champions League games and we've rotated different players or managed their fitness. I think that is not the reason today why the team has struggled in the last few games to get a positive result. "
The manager also included Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez in that group with Eriksen, claiming that Tottenham were "trying to provide him [Eriksen] and different players more time to rest and recover, with different strategies, and trying to help".
Alli's dip in form has been particularly noticeable amid complaints over his consistency, although Pochettino insisted he was happy with the England midfielder, on whom there are always big expectations, and that it was normal for a young player to be "sometimes up and down".
Tottenham will remain without influential centre-back Toby Alderweireld (hamstring) and midfielder Victor Wanyama (knee) against an entertaining but leaky Watford side that were denied a third straight win against Manchester United in midweek after threatening an unlikely late comeback at Vicarage Road despite trailing 3-0 late on.
That duo are said to be continuing with their respective recoveries, although Spurs confirmed that Harry Winks is available for selection once more. The academy graduate midfielder started and featured for just over an hour at West Brom before missing the defeat to Leicester through illness.
Pochettino is not pondering any defensive shake-up with Alderweireld sidelined until the New Year, although plans to make changes to his team for next week's final Champions League group fixture against Apoel Nicosia, describing the tie as a "great opportunity to rest players that need to rest and to help them for the next period to be fresh".
He also preached caution with regards to the slow reintegration of compatriot Erik Lamela, who came off the bench late on at the King Power Stadium to make his first competitive appearance in 400 days.