Dele Alli could even play as Tottenham's goalkeeper, insists Mauricio Pochettino

20 March 2017 08:53

Mauricio Pochettino joked that Dele Alli could probably play in goal after Tottenham's young midfielder filled in for Harry Kane and scored in yesterday's 2-1 win over Southampton.

Alli won and then converted a penalty to double Spurs' lead at White Hart Lane after Christian Eriksen had earlier broken the deadlock.

James Ward-Prowse pulled a goal back for the visitors but Tottenham held on to restore the gap behind Chelsea to 10 points and move nine ahead of Arsenal.

Alli started as a second striker behind Son Heung-min but was effectively leading the line for a spell after the interval, when the South Korean had been replaced by midfielder Harry Winks.

It means Alli has now played central midfield, left and centre of an attacking three, and up front for Pochettino, who believes the 20-year-old could excel anywhere on the pitch.

"Dele Alli always can surprise and you can't guess with him. He has an unbelievable personality and character and it is all possible with him," Pochettino said.

"He is a player who plays in his best position, he is a player who likes to run into the box, he is very often very clever in the box. In the box he looks like a striker because he is more than clever, he has made his mark.

"Outside the box playing like a midfielder, I saw him at 17 years old playing at Milton Keynes as a holding midfielder against Manchester United.

"And I don't know, always he can surprise me, maybe one day he can play as a goalkeeper or as a full-back or centre-back."

Son, fresh from his hat-trick against Millwall, was Kane's direct replacement but the 24-year-old endured one of his quieter afternoons and was taken off with 15 minutes left.

Vincent Janssen was also brought on off the bench in the latter stages and the Dutchman, who scored his first Tottenham goal from open play last weekend, appeared to be playing with renewed confidence.

"He will now have the possibility to play more and be more involved," Pochettino said. "Today he showed great, great energy when he came on."

On Son, Pochettino added: "I think it was good. He had some chances to score and showed some great movement behind the defensive line.

"He worked well with Dele and Christian and I am very pleased with his performance."

Kyle Walker was substituted late on and was later seen leaving the stadium with heavy strapping around his right wrist and hand.

Walker indicated there would be no problem with him joining up with England on Monday.

Pochettino explained Walker had suffered a minor injury to his thumb but said that was not the reason he had taken the defender off.

"My decision was not for that," Pochettino said. "We saw when he came off that he had a problem with his thumb but it is not a big thing."

Southampton boss Claude Puel confirmed striker Manolo Gabbiadini would miss international duty with Italy after he was forced off early in the match.

He said: "It's a groin injury and we will see with all the (scans). I hope it is not bad but for his national team, it is not possible for him to go."

Gabbiadini was duly replaced in the Azzurri squad by Atalanta's Andrea Petagna.

Source: PA