LONDON -- Toby Alderweireld described Tottenham's 3-2 Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham as a "reality check," but says the players must pick themselves up quickly ahead of their trip to Manchester United on Saturday.
Spurs had one foot in the Carabao Cup quarterfinals after goals from Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli gave them a commanding 2-0 lead at half-time over West Ham on Wednesday. But a quick-fire double from Andre Ayew and Angelo Ogbonna's headed winner competed the turnaround for the visitors at Wembley.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said the defeat had brought the club back down to earth after "a few weeks in sky," though he had made it clear before the game that he was not prioritising the domestic cups this season.
Alderweireld said that the players had not taken the competition lightly but added there was no time to dwell on the defeat ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash.
"We are disappointed, of course, with the result," Alderweireld said. "We're not like, 'Oh it's only a cup.' No. We wanted to go through. That's football. We focus on Saturday and we need to make it up.
"We were not flying in our heads or anything but I think it's a good reality check that you still need to work very hard, even if you're 2-0 up, to get results. You have to keep the level up because if you drop it a little bit you see what happens. It's a good thing to learn.
"Of course we'd love to have won but we don't have to be too dramatic about it. Next time we have to do better, and we focus on Saturday. There's a big game coming up -- we have to stand there and be ready for it."
The Belgium international, one of just four players to keep their place in a rotated XI, said the "intensity dropped a little" after a third game in a week following last Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Real Madrid and 4-1 win over Liverpool on Sunday.
With Madrid's visit to Wembley following the United clash, before Spurs travel to Crystal Palace next weekend, the games are continuing to come thick and fast.
"It's all about recovery and being ready for the games," Alderweireld said. "They're tough games as well. You see the Champions League is tough, and we play big fixtures in the Premier League as well -- it's a high standard. But we try to keep up and I think we're physically ready for this programme.
"Our preseason was very tough and that's for one reason: it's to be ready and have the muscles ready for the big games and when there's a big load of it. So I think we're ready for it and we want to show it on Saturday."