Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino had no hesitation in granting Emmanuel Adebayor’s request to return home to deal with a family matter.
As the squad made their way to Turkey for Thursday’s Europa League clash with Besiktas, Spurs announced the Togo frontman would be absent due to a “private matter”.
Adebayor instead returned to Africa for what the north London club called “personal reasons”, with reports suggesting a close relative of the striker had fallen ill.
Pochettino confirmed upon arriving at the Ataturk Olimpiyat Stadium that it was a family-related matter and that the striker had requested permission to return home.
“When you have a problem, your mind is not quite… it is a difficult to give your best,” the Spurs boss said.
“I have always told you that players are human. Many problems happen and it is important to fix this type of problem because always family is important.
“But we hope when he comes back he will be ready to start training and to help the team.”
Pochettino rejected talk Adebayor could be absent throughout the Christmas period and went as far as suggesting there was a small chance he may be back for this weekend’s trip to Swansea.
The former Argentina international admits that is unlikely, but played down the impact his absence could have over the hectic festive period.
“Yes, it is an important time but we need to understand that the players are people,” Pochettino said.
“They need to fix when family matters happen and you need to sort it. If not, it is difficult to give the best.
“After, yes, we know we have ahead a lot of games. It is a very busy period, but the first [thing] always is if you are okay, if you are ready, if you are in your mind clear.
“When things like that happen, it is very difficult for the player and it is important. Maybe we lose three or four days in training, but you win a lot because if not the problem is always in his mind and it is difficult to break this cycle.
“Now, it is important that he takes time, sorts out the problem and when he is back is ready to train and be available.”
Adebayor is not the only absentee for Spurs, with Harry Kane, Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen amongst those rested for a match both sides approach with progression to the last-32 confirmed.
This game will, though, decide who wins Group C and could witness the long-awaited return of Kyle Walker.
The 24-year-old right-back has been lied low for the last nine months with a pelvic injury but could start against Besiktas.
“You know Kyle is back,” Pochettino said. “Now we need to decide after this training if he is in the starting XI or maybe on the bench.”
The decision on whether Walker would start against Besiktas took longer than the Spurs boss had anticipated.
While the team bus got a police escort to the Ataturk Olimpiyat Stadium, the kit was caught up Istanbul’s notoriously bad traffic meaning training was delayed by an hour – not the ideal preparation ahead of facing the Turkish giants.
“We expect tomorrow a very tough game because Besiktas is a very good team,” Pochettino said. “Yes, maybe it was difficult in London at Tottenham.
“But now we are ready to compete and we want to get the points and the victory tomorrow to be on the top of the table, the group. I think tomorrow is a very important game.”
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