Pochettino's first dilemma

Welcome to Tottenham Hotspur Mauricio Pochettino, welcome to a different world of football, a world of football, a world of football where you get a dilemma from day 1, but you still have to win. You are about to start learning what pressure is, Tottenham style.

Pochettino's first dilemma

The season begins with 5 fixtures in 15 days and just one injury to a key player will mean an untried youngster as your first choice with part-timers as back up.

Kyle Walker has two brief appearances on the North American pre-season tour but they have set his recovery back. Kyle Naughton played most games and is now, despite interest from other clubs, essential for the start of the season. The England right-back will miss at least 3 Premier League games, 2 Europa League games and 2 England games, a disappointment after missing out on the World Cup.

Over the last few years Walker has had to play more than most with so many injuries to our centre-backs, Kyle Naughton has had to play left-back and Walker all premier League games as well as virtually all Europa League games. This overuse may have contributed to his injury and we may be a victim of our own lack of forward planning.

The situation means Kyle Naughton will be starting the season as first choice right-back and a chance to stake his claim under the new boss. Walker will be out until at least after the international break at the beginning of September so at this stage his first potential return game could be Sunderland on September 13th.

There is no guarantee of that and we don't need reminding of what happens after long term injuries, Sandro has never recovered form and Kaboul has had injuries and consistently makes mistakes now. Kyle Naughton's fitness suddenly becomes of paramount importance.

Swansea were interested in the 25-year-old who played more minutes than most last season, only five outfield players played more. However with only inexperienced 21-year-old Ryan Fredericks to provide cover Kyle Naughton will not be for sale this window. He'll be first choice right-back at the start of the season, then it will be up to Walker to force his way back in.

When will that be, soon Pochettino tells us which can mean anything, especially if he is still having bad days.

"Kyle still has days when he does not have a good feeling but we believe he’ll recover soon." 

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The first 3 games are against West Ham away on Saturday 16th August, QPR at home on Sunday 24th August and Liverpool at home on Sunday 31st August.

Mixed in with that are the Europa League Qualifying Round Play-off ties against AEL Limassol away on Thursday 21st August and at home on Thursday 28th August.

Spurs Season Start

Saturday 16th August West Ham United (a) - Premier League
Thursday 21st August AEL Limassol (a) - Europa League Qualifying Round Play-off 1st Leg
Sunday 24th August QPR (h) - Premier League
Thursday 28th August AEL Limassol (h) - Europa League Qualifying Round Play-off 1st Leg
Sunday 31st August Liverpool (h) - Premier League

Wednesday 3rd September International Break
Saturday 6th Saptember No Fixture
Monday 8th September International Break

Saturday 13th September Sunderland (a) - Premier League

What are Pochettino's options?

1. Does Pochettino play Naughton in all the games, knowing qualification in the Europa League is essential?
2. Does he play Naughton in the Premier League games and risk Fredericks in the Europa League?
3. Does he play Naughton n the Premier League and the away leg of the Europa League tie?

This early in the season does he want to be playing a key player that much in the opening weeks knowing an injury puts us us trouble defensively immediately? Surely he is going to want to rest him ahead of the Liverpool game, after last season's hammerings it takes on extra significance this season.

If you over tire a player early in the season you are making him more susceptible to injury and we can't put ourselves in that position. As it is we have Michael Dawson out with a knock, Mousa Dembele out with a calf/shin injury, Vlad Chiriches with a mystery back injury and Walker out, none of which have been given a specific return date.

So what does Pochettino do, how does he solve the season's first dilemma at Tottenham Hotspur as our soap opera injury saga rumbles on.

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