Alderweireld eyes Europa League glory

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Toby Alderweireld has urged his Tottenham team-mates to use Sunday’s 3-0 victory at Fulham as their springboard to overcome Gent.

After back-to-back defeats, Spurs returned to near their finest form when a hat-trick from Harry Kane at Craven Cottage ensured they progressed to the FA Cup quarter-finals.

The second of those losses came in Belgium Gent on Thursday, with a 1-0 scoreline threatening Spurs’ hopes of reaching the Europa League’s round of 16, but Alderweireld believes victory at Fulham can provide the platform to succeed in this week’s second leg.

“The next goal is go through to the next round of the Europa League,” said the 27-year-old defender of Thursday’s fixture. “We’re looking forward to that, to change the game we played last Thursday, get a good result and get to the next round.

“If you lose two times in a row it’s good to have a good game again. We played well and go to the next round.

“(We) talked to each other, after the game in the Europa League, and said ‘Yeah, we have to change’.

“We know everybody’s trying, but trying to get the good feeling back – one way is to work very hard – and try to change as quickly as possible. We showed the desire is there.

“Not angry (when talking), just to see to the future. Everybody works hard, everybody’s doing their best, so they can’t complain about that.

“It’s just the desire to come back more than ever. You can do it with hard work and results like (at Fulham).”

Jan Vertonghen’s return from an ankle injury provided a further positive for Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, who was rewarded on Sunday for selecting a strong XI against Sky Bet Championship opposition.

Despite intense competition within the Premier League for a top-four finish, the Belgium international expects Pochettino to continue taking both cup competitions seriously.

He also believes Spurs can use them to demonstrate the improvements they have made since losing to Chelsea in the 2015 League Cup final.

“He understands the importance of the Europa League and FA Cup,” said Vertonghen, 29. “It’s good that we take it very seriously: we want to win both and compete in the league as well, and our team is fit enough to cope with these things.

“We played the final against Chelsea at Wembley a couple of years ago and we want more of that. I won silverware at Ajax and it’s the best thing there is in football. This team deserve a trophy.

“We improved a lot. That’s only a year-and-a-half, two years ago, but we’ve improved a lot as a team. We’re stronger, the gaffer’s had his time to work with us; we understand the way he wants us to play.”

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