LONDON – Mauricio Pochettino has told Tottenham to shrug off the absence of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min as they prepare to face Ajax Amsterdam in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday.
Kane headlines a lengthy injury list also including Erik Lamela and Harry Winks, while Son is suspended.
But having upset the odds to end Manchester City’s quest for a quadruple of trophies in the quarter-finals, manager Pochettino insisted Spurs’ strength as a collective can overcome Ajax’s talented group of rising stars.
“To be in a Champions League semi-final is something I dreamed about. You need to settle your dreams, to infinity and beyond,” Pochettino said at his pre-match press conference on Monday ahead of Tottenham’s first European Cup semi-final since 1962.
“The chance to play a semi-final for Tottenham has not happened often. We are in a circumstance that is not going to change, and we must be ready
“It is impossible to be tired, impossible to not be excited to play. I am sure there is no doubt we will have the energy for 90 minutes.”
However, while Pochettino’s stretched squad were slipping to a sixth defeat in their last 10 Premier League games to West Ham on Saturday, Ajax have had a full week to rest as the entire Dutch league calendar for the weekend was postponed to allow them extra time to prepare.
Without Kane, who is not expected to return this season unless Spurs make it to the Champions League final on June 1, Tottenham’s goals have dried up since a thrilling 4-3 defeat in the second leg of their quarter-final at City was enough to progress on away goals.
Christian Eriksen’s late strike to secure a 1-0 victory over Brighton on Tuesday was Spurs’ only goal in their past three games.
Son’s absence means Pochettino is robbed of another goal threat, with Lucas Moura and Fernando Llorente his only striking options.
🎙️ Mauricio on absences:
"We are going to be a team. I don’t care who is going to score. Of course, it’s an issue to not have all the players fit, but it's about the collective."#UCL ⚪️ #COYSpic.twitter.com/xtrTEhRuYN