Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino insists the club cannot afford to take any long-term risks with Toby Alderweireld after the defender was left out of the squad for the Champions League clash against Juventus.
Alderweireld returned after a three-and-a-half month layoff last week, playing the full 90 minutes as Spurs eased to victory over Newport County and book their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The Belgium international was left out of the squad on Saturday (10 December) for the North London derby clash against Arsenal and was not pictured among the Spurs squad as they boarded a flight to Turin on Monday afternoon.
Spurs have regularly exercised caution when bringing players back from long-term injuries, with Danny Rose and Erik Lamela receiving similar treatment after their returns from respective knee and hip problems.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of Tuesday's last 16 clash against the Serie A champions, Pochettino confirmed the defender's absence, but insisted there is nothing unusual in the club's handling of his return.
"You know how we work," Pochettino told reporters, football.london report. "After three and a half months he suffered a massive injury. From day one we created a plan to help him. We worked with the medical area and sports science. He is 28, it was a massive injury and we cannot put his career at risk.
"We are sorry for him to miss massive games like Arsenal and the Champions League. I understand and we are frustrated too. Of course, it is a very important game but we need to apply our common sense about how he is used in the first few weeks after training. Competing is different. We were lucky to have Newport. All going well he will be available for Rochdale and we will assess day by day."
Spurs are also without Juan Foyth, who was not included in Tottenham's Champions League squad for the knockout phase of the competition. Kyle Walker-Peters has also been left back in North London.