Tottenham Hotspur manager, Mauricio Pochettino, insists he will not use injuries as an excuse if his side lose to Barcelona in their Champions League clash at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.
The Premier League club will be without several key players for the Group B fixture at Wembley as they look to open their account in this season’s competition at the second attempt.
Dele Alli was already certain to miss the midweek clash with the La Liga champions, but fellow midfielders Mousa Dembele and Christian Eriksen are also now unavailable.
Spurs confirmed on Tuesday that defensive duo Serge Aurier and Jan Vertonghen have been ruled out too, however Pochettino insists the club are not “victims” and must instead focus on those who are available for duty.
“We have players with different injuries – it’s not a pattern that happens from something specific,” Pochettino told the media.
“We are not victims, though. We must feel strong. Every player must feel they can win and achieve what we want.
“When you build a team and you have 24 or 25 players, all can be decisive, can be important. If we don’t have some players then we can’t say we lose 3-0, rest players and prepare for the next game. We can win.
“Of course, I prefer to have all the players available to play, but I’m not going to say we don’t have chances to win because it’s Barcelona.
“I am not the victim and I won’t be the victim in football or life. If we don’t win then it’s because Barcelona were better. If we win it’s because we are a team, just with different names.”
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is set to start for the first time since the 3-0 win over Manchester United at the end of August, however, after overcoming a thigh injury.
Tottenham lost their European opener 2-1 away to Inter but will hope to make the most of home advantage against Barca, having won all three group games when playing at Wembley last season.
That 100 per cent record included a 3-1 triumph over Real Madrid, though Pochettino insists much has changed since that result in the English capital.
“I think we are in a different period. Plenty of our players were involved in the World Cup and until we arrived at Real Madrid it was our biggest game,” he said.
“Then they played in the World Cup. Now you can’t motivate in the same way as you did a year ago. Maybe it is the same players.
“It’s about enjoying the game tomorrow and the best player in the world in [Lionel] Messi. Football is not a drama but always it’s about being focused, competitive and enjoying playing against the best player in the world.
“Be optimistic and be happy and smile when you go on the pitch. Don’t be too serious,” Pochettino stated.