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Monday 21 January 2019

Mauricio Pochettino wants Dele Alli back at Spurs if midfielder gets England ban

Dele Alli was named in Gareth Southgate's England squad on Thursday
Dele Alli was named in Gareth Southgate's England squad on Thursday

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says he wants to recall Dele Alli from the England squad if the midfielder is banned by FIFA.

A disciplinary committee of the governing body was expected to decide on Thursday whether Alli will be suspended, after he raised his middle finger during a qualifier against Slovakia earlier this month.

The 21-year-old could face a fine or, at worst, a lengthy ban for the incident, which could even mean he misses the start of next summer's World Cup.

Alli claimed he directed the gesture as a joke at team-mate Kyle Walker.

England host Slovenia at Wembley next week before concluding their qualification campaign away in Lithuania and Alli has been named in Gareth Southgate's squad for the two matches.

Pochettino, however, says he would prefer to have him back at Tottenham's training base if FIFA do opt to punish him.

"I wish that nothing happens and he can play but I am not the person that will decide what will happen with him," Pochettino said.

"I will decide what happens if he is banned. What will happen is impossible to know. I think if he is banned I would prefer him to stay with us working than to be with the national team.

"Then that is a decision between the FA and us. I have not talked to Gareth Southgate yet. (If he is banned) we will speak."

Alli sat out Tottenham's Champions League win over Apoel Nicosia on Tuesday due to a separate three-game ban in Europe but will return for Saturday's match at Huddersfield.

Harry Kane scored a hat-trick in Cyprus to continue his rich vein of form but Pochettino moved to play down comparisons with LaLiga pair Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

"It is a good opportunity to clarify Cristiano and Messi are a different level," Pochettino said.

"They are the best and they are showing in the last maybe five, 10 years they are the best.

"We cannot put such pressure on Harry because he is still so young. Messi and Cristiano are completely different in style, Harry is a striker, a killer."

Christian Eriksen also missed the win over Apoel through illness but trained on Thursday and is expected to play this weekend.

Erik Lamela (hip), Victor Wanyama and Danny Rose (both knee) are all out, however, along with Mousa Dembele, who is still struggling with an ankle injury sustained against Barnsley.

"For Saturday it is impossible for him to play," Pochettino said. "We hope that it will not be a big problem but I think he needs time to recover. I don't know how long.

"We need more information, to speak to the doctor and to see what will happen in the next few weeks."

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