Mauricio Pochettino admits he is likely to once more make changes for the Europa League clash with Borussia Dortmund, despite looking to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit.
Tottenham boss Pochettino drew criticism following the last-16 defeat in Germany after his weakened side were outplayed at the Westfalenstadion and left with a mountain to climb in Thursday’s second leg.
Spurs’ title challenge has been one of the surprise stories of the season but it has come at a cost. They failed to make an impact in either the FA Cup or the Capital One Cup and now stand on the brink of a third exit in Europe.
Balancing the club’s domestic ambitions with progression in cup competitions has been a struggle for Pochettino, who is set to rest key players again at White Hart Lane.
”I believe in my squad and for one negative result now it has not changed my vision of them,” Pochettino said.
”Sometimes it is difficult and I accept in a very good way the criticism because always in football if you win you are a genius, if not, you are a disaster.
”For me it is important to keep all players motivated. All players are important. It is not only to say it, it is important to show I believe in them.
”Sometimes we rotate, sometimes maybe I made a mistake. We analyse our decisions a lot. We can always do better and for that we are open to learn.”
Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele both sat out first-team training on Wednesday and Pochettino confirmed the pair would likely be rested against Dortmund, with a home game against Bournemouth to come on Sunday.
Spurs will have to score three without reply even to force extra-time and they may have do it without Harry Kane, who started the first leg on the bench and was not brought on until late in the second half.
Dortmund defender Mats Hummels said: “Of course, Kane is a big threat. I saw him score two goals on Sunday against Aston Villa.
“We know what a good striker he is. If he is on the pitch, you give him a certain amount of defensive concentration – you focus a little more on him.
“In the whole team, in the offence, they have some pretty nice players. So in the end it doesn’t matter who plays.
“It’s not that we can chill if he doesn’t play because we still have to work on our defence.”
Sven Bender and Ilkay Gundogan have not travelled with the Dortmund squad to London while full-back Erik Durm is a doubt after picking up a knock against Mainz last weekend.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored his 33rd goal of the season in the first leg, may be rested but head coach Thomas Tuchel insists he is not thinking about his side’s visit to Augsburg on Sunday.
“There are no priorities,” Tuchel said. “Perhaps the Europa League is a once in a lifetime chance to go a long way because our goal is to play Champions League year after year.
“I’m very happy we showed an extraordinary performance and we have to show this again. We have to have our top focus and take it very seriously.”