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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 January 2019

Mauricio Pochettino shows 'belief' in Tottenham squad as focus turns to Barcelona

Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen on the bench against Leicester as goals from Son and Alli ensure victory at King Power Stadium

Son Heung-min, centre, starred in the absence of Harry Kane by scoring Tottenham's opening goal in the win over Leicester City. Reuters
Son Heung-min, centre, starred in the absence of Harry Kane by scoring Tottenham's opening goal in the win over Leicester City. Reuters

Mauricio Pochettino has said Tottenham Hotspur's victory over Leicester City displayed the trust he has in his entire squad as attention now turns to the trip to Barcelona for the Uefa Champions League.

Tottenham collected all three points at the King Power Stadium on Saturday despite Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen, two of his most potent attacking players, playing only bit-part roles off the bench.

The pair will now be fresh for Tuesday's crucial Champions League trip to Catalonia with Spurs needing to win at the Camp Nou to guarantee progress to the last 16. Equally, they must match Inter Milan's result against PSV Eindoven to advance.

Pochettino believes all of his players will have a role in the hectic weeks ahead.

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"To show the belief you have in the squad is massive," said Pochettino. "There's no point players playing every three days. It's not healthy, they need to rest and need some time to breathe.

"For some teams it's so difficult to manage. The most important thing is being genuine in the trust you have in the squad. We are showing we trust all the players. In this busy period everybody needs to be focused."

Tottenham are now back into third, just six points off the top of the Premier League, now headed by Liverpool following Manchester City's first defeat of the season at Chelsea.

By staying in the race despite a host of injury problems and delays over moving into the club's new stadium, Pochettino now believes his players can keep pace with the league leaders.

"The three points are massive to keep our position in the table," he added. "It's a massive win for us. The reality is we are there, fighting Liverpool, City, Chelsea and Arsenal - that's the reality.

"It was a tough place so I'm very happy with the performance. I am so pleased and it allows us to start thinking about Barcelona."

In the absence of Kane and Eriksen, Son Heung-min came to the fore by opening the scoring before crossing for Dele Alli to head home Spurs' second just before the hour mark.

Son's impact in the first few months of the season was limited by his participation in the Asian Games, but the South Korean has been in fine form in recent weeks after skipping international duty last month.

"The first few months of the season I was a little bit disappointed because he travelled a lot, but after a rest and not going with the national team he was so focused on trying to improve," Pochettino said.

"Today he improved a lot from (the) Chelsea (game) and we're so happy with his contribution and performance and that is the player we want."

The only blight on a bright night for Pochettino was an injury to right-back Serge Aurier that could rule the Ivorian out for the Barcelona match.

However, Pochettino is confident Spurs can produce on the biggest stage to cap a remarkable comeback after picking up just one point from their opening three Champions League games.

"It will be a massive game. They are qualified for the next stage but in the Champions League nobody gives you a present," he said.

"We need to win and deserve to win and the mentality has got to be 200 percent to try to win because it's a game we must win. We will arrive in the best condition but in front of us will be Barcelona, one of the best teams in Europe."

Updated: December 9, 2018 09:17 AM

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