Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has allayed concerns over the fitness of Toby Alderweireld, insisting his influential centre-back will be available for the Premier League clash with Liverpool on 2 April. The former Southampton loanee has been an ever-present for the title contenders since completing an £11.4m ($16.3m) move from Atletico Madrid in July 2015, making 42 appearances in all competitions.
Alderweireld was called up to the Belgium squad by Marc Wilmots for their recent re-arranged friendly against Portugal, but later withdrew from the side that lost 2-1 at the Estadio Municipal De Leiria due to a stomach illness. Pochettino has already had to proceed without one key component of his defence in Jan Vertonghen over recent weeks, although he appears confident that Alderweireld will be fit for a potentially difficult trip to Anfield.
"He's OK, he trained in the last two days in a very good way," the manager was quoted as saying at a pre-match press conference by the Hampstead and Highgate Express. "We need to assess him tomorrow but we hope he will arrive in a very good condition to compete on Saturday."
Tottenham's official Twitter account goes one step further, claiming that Pochettino believes Alderweireld is "good" and "fully fit", with no more issues expected. He provided a further boost by announcing that Vertonghen, who has been sidelined for over two months since damaging the medial collateral ligament in his knee during a 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace in January, was very close to making his comeback. It seems likely that such an eagerly anticipated return will come against Manchester United at White Hart Lane next weekend.
Alderweireld was not the only Spurs player to suffer on international duty. Erik Lamela was reported to have picked up a hamstring muscle injury during his time with Argentina and was left as an unused substitute by Gerardo Martino for consecutive 2018 World Cup qualifying victories against Chile and Bolivia.
The 24-year-old has enjoyed something of a renaissance in North London after initially struggling to adapt, following his club-record arrival from Roma. He will need to undergo further assessment on Friday (1 April) before his availability for Liverpool can be properly determined.
Following a straightforward 3-0 defeat of Bournemouth before the break, second-place Tottenham remain five points adrift of leaders Leicester City with just seven matches left to play. Striker Clinton Njie is edging gradually closer to full fitness, but Nabil Bentaleb is expected to miss six weeks after undergoing knee surgery.