Postecoglou promises talented midfielder he will be given opportunities in coming weeks

Matt Stead
Ange Postecoglou Tottenham
Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou

Ange Postecoglou has told midfielder Giovani Lo Celso there will be opportunities for him to turn around his Tottenham career over the coming weeks.

Spurs are without at least nine first team players for the visit of in-from Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.

Yves Bissouma (suspended) and James Maddison (ankle) will definitely miss out and the prolonged absence of the latter has resulted in calls for Lo Celso to be given a first league start for Spurs since 2021.

The Argentina international, who was signed four years ago towards the end of Mauricio Pochettino’s tenure, worked with current Villa boss Unai Emery at Villarreal last season and could get the chance to haunt his old manager this weekend.

Lo Celso has made just three substitute appearances in the Premier League this season, while he was taken off at half-time against Fulham in the Carabao Cup in his only start for Spurs.

“I looked at Gio really well before I got here, both here at Tottenham and his spells at other clubs,” Postecoglou said.

“You can see he has certain qualities. He’s had a disruptive season for us. He’s had a few injuries, he hasn’t really had a clean run at it.

“He’s one of a number of players that has happened to, but you can see technically, he’s a very creative player, he works hard for the team. He’ll get an opportunity over the next few weeks to hopefully come in and make an impact.”

While Lo Celso has struggled to make his mark in England, the 27-year-old remains a key figure for his country and started Argentina’s 1-0 win in Brazil on Tuesday.

Postecoglou admitted, though, he is not placing much emphasis on the midfielder’s international action: “I don’t think his national team form is a direct correlation to here. Just like anyone else’s.

“Gio will get an opportunity, particularly over the next few weeks because we are down on numbers and have a fair few games between now and the new year. If they’re here, they’ll get an opportunity. That’s all you can offer.”

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Lo Celso was heavily linked with a move away in the summer, but Postecoglou made clear from the outset his desire to keep him at Spurs.

Barcelona remain interested in the midfielder and while Tottenham’s injury list makes departures unlikely in January, the Australian conceded now is his chance to cast an eye over the squad.

Postecoglou added: “From my perspective, this is the time when I am getting an opportunity to make all these assessments because if you lump it all into one and look at previous exposure here at the club, that’s not really relevant to me.

“It’s what I see from now on and how the players feel themselves about playing the football that I want and whether they see themselves fitting into that. It hasn’t happened by design but I am certainly going to get a good look at everyone.”

Giovani Lo Celso has been linked with a move to Barcelona.

Meanwhile, Postecoglou heaped praise on opposite number Emery for turning Villa into top-four contenders within 12 months of taking the job.

“I haven’t come across him, but I have been a great admirer of his coaching. He came over here and the experience (with Arsenal) didn’t deter him in any way,” the Australian revealed.

“He didn’t lose any belief in who he is as a manager. He has turned Villa around very, very quickly and you have got to remember what position they were in.

“I have looked at his teams and they have always been very well organised and structured, with a clear identity. And he has transferred that across three different countries. He is a quality manager.”

Spurs sit fourth in the Premier League on 26 points after 12 games, one point ahead of fifth-placed Villa.

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