Pochettino wary of Defoe threat


Mauricio Pochettino has wished former Tottenham favourite Jermain Defoe all the best after the striker completed a move to Sunderland – but knows the England striker could come back to haunt his side on Saturday.

Defoe sealed a move from Major League Soccer outfit Toronto FC to Sunderland on Friday – in time to be involved against Spurs at White Hart Lane this weekend.

Although the 32-year-old, who has penned a three-and-half-year deal on Wearside, is not match fit, he is likely to be involved for Gus Poyet’s side, having kept himself sharp by training with the Tottenham development squad in recent weeks.

And Pochettino, who decided against bringing Defoe back for a third spell with Spurs, knows the frontman has the ability to hurt his team as they look to keep pace with the Barclays Premier League’s top four.

When asked if signing Defoe was a gamble, Pochettino replied: “It’s not me that needs to answer this question. It’s a question for Gus Poyet.

“All the best for Jermain in his new era in his career. Always, we need to be focused on our players, but Defoe is a big finisher and a very good striker.

“He showed his quality here and in the last season at Toronto, but we have three great strikers and we are confident in our players.

“He was training with the under-21s last week. All the best, because he spent time here in the last few days. For him, he is a very good player and a very good guy.”

Pochettino is likely to welcome back a host of first-team regulars for the visit of Sunderland after making seven changes for Wednesday’s FA Cup third-round replay victory over Burnley.

Top goalscorer Harry Kane and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris are two faces likely to return, with Pochettino continuing to juggle his squad as they challenge of four fronts.

As well as a domestic campaign to get back into the Champions League, Tottenham are still in the FA Cup, Capital One Cup and Europa League, but Pochettino is not worried about the possibility of fixture congestion.

“It’s a good thing for us because we are still in four competitions and it’s important for the club,” he said.

“I think that we are the Premier League team who have played more official games than anyone, but it’s a good challenge for us. It’s for that (reason) it’s important to have the strong squad, because you need players available to play.

“I’m not worried. We need to work hard and analyse every single decision and after try to keep our players fit for every game. It’s important for that to go step by step, game by game. It’s important to analyse every player and every single decision that we take.”

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