<
>

Lucas Moura may start, though he's still adjusting to Tottenham - Pochettino

play
Is VAR 'killing the emotion' of football? (3:59)

Steve Nicol and Mark Donaldson react to Danny Rose and Mauricio Pochettino's criticism of VAR, and whether it should be implemented at the World Cup. (3:59)

LONDON -- Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says Lucas Moura is in contention to start against Huddersfield on Saturday, but he admitted the January signing needs to improve his work-rate off the ball.

Moura has so far started the FA Cup fifth-round matches against Rochdale and made brief cameos from the bench in the Premier League and Champions League, having joined Spurs for £24.5 million on deadline day from Paris Saint-Germain, where he had made just six substitute appearances all season.

Asked if Moura was fit enough to start in the league, Pochettino said: "Yes, of course. He's going to have that possibility from now until the end of the season.

"It's true that he still needs to adapt his quality to the team. We're trying to build his fitness and adapt his characteristics to the team. PSG is a completely different demand, standard and philosophy from here.

"He's capable of everything going forward, he has amazing quality but then he needs to be more involved with the team when we don't have the ball.

"We're helping him. That is about training, understanding the position and being capable of making efforts with and without the ball. But we're so pleased with how he's adapting himself to the team."

On how Moura is adapting to life in England, the Spurs manager continued: "It's not easy for him to move in the winter window. Everything is new, for him, his family, his little baby.

"Your world changes when you move from Paris to London and then [you need to get] to know your teammates, how the coaching staff thinks, how your manager is, if he jokes with you or is serious with you.

"We try to help him with advice and concepts. The priority is to build his fitness and leave him free to play and able to show his quality."

Jan Vertonghen is fit again after missing the matches against Crystal Palace and Rochdale with a ankle injury but Toby Alderweireld, who turned 29 on Friday, is continuing to train alone after suffering a hamstring problem last week.

Pochettino, who also celebrated his 46th birthday on Friday, said Alderweireld would not be fit to face Juventus in the Champions League round-of-16 second leg next week.

"We need to be cautious with Toby," Pochettino said. "I think still we need to assess every day. I don't believe he can be ready for Juventus. But I'm happy because Jan is back again and maybe he is available for tomorrow to play against Huddersfield."

Pochettino may still decide against risking Vertonghen at Wembley ahead of the Juve's visit, with the tie finely poised at 2-2 from the first leg, but he is confident in Eric Dier's ability to continue covering at centre-back.

"I remember Carlos Salvador Bilardo saying players that have more value are players that can play in different positions on the pitch," Pochettino said. "That was in 1986 and 1990, in different World Cups. This mentality is so important.

"To have players that can play different positions and keep the same level is a massive value. Eric can play as midfielder, a centre-back and a right-back. And he's going to perform as well [in each] because it's in his mind. It's his mentality.

"Football is about mentality being positive, and then you can adapt your characteristic. If you're training anything is possible."