Monday 23 April 2018

David Moyes refuses to clear up Patrick van Aanholt's late removal mystery

Mark Critchley

David Moyes refused to expand on the reasoning behind Patrick van Aanholt’s late removal from the Sunderland starting line-up for Sunday’s 1-0 defeat at Tottenham.

The 26-year-old left-back was replaced by Jason Denayer on the teamsheet shortly before kick-off due to ‘medical reasons’, according to his manager.

However, despite Van Aanholt's apparent injury, television cameras captured him reacting to the news with surprise.

The Dutchman appeared to be informed of his demotion by Denayer during the pre-match warm-up and subsequently kicked a ball away in frustration.

When asked to explain why Van Aanholt was replaced, Moyes responded coyly.

“I've given a stock answer: for medical reasons, we chose to withdraw him from the game. If you don't mind, I won't follow up.

“You know me, I'd always like to be straight but I'm giving you what I think the best answer right now is.

"We advised the referee,” he added. “It was very late on, I got word of something very late obviously, and because of that, that affected the decision.

“As you well know, people can get injured in the warm-up.”

Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager, only learned of Van Aanholt’s removal moments before kick-off and expressed his surprise at the decision.

“I don't know what happened with him, it was a strange situation because it was in the last moment, nearly when we were going to the tunnel.

“I don't know if he's sure he has some problem. He was in the starting XI one hour and fifteen minutes before, and then in the last moment, the match referee told us that there was a change.

“It surprised me but you never know what's inside. I didn't see what happened.”

Pochettino saw his side take all three points thanks to a second-half Harry Kane strike, only for the Tottenham frontman to later leave the field on a stretcher.

Kane took a knock to his ankle as his side pressed for a second goal late on and may now face a spell on the sidelines.

“Now, he feels pain in his ankle and we see tomorrow,” Pochettino confirmed.

“He showed that maybe he has some problem in his ligament, but today it's difficult to assess and give an opinion. We have to wait tomorrow for a scan.”

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