Mauricio Pochettino has revealed Jan Vertonghen was left out of the Tottenham Hotspur squad for tactical reasons.
One of the most consistent performers for Spurs over the past seven seasons, the Belgium international was a surprise omission from the squad as Spurs beat Aston Villa 3-1.
The 32-year-old featured prominently for Pochettino last season, but the Argentine was quick to play down the decision.
Speaking before the game, Pochettino said: “It’s a decision. We decide for different reasons that we will play Davinson and Toby and then Serge on the bench can play in two sides and Dier can play centre-back too.
“It’s impossible to find a place for every player.”
Harry Kane broke Villa hearts with two late strikes to ensure all three points would be remaining in north London.
After Lucas Moura missed a fine chance to put Spurs ahead, it was Villa who took a surprise lead in the ninth minute.
Tyrone Mings’ long ball up field found John McGinn, who held off the challenge of Danny Rose to shoot low past Hugo Lloris.
But record signing Tanguy Ndombele found an equaliser with a stunning drive from outside the box, before the pressure told and Kane delivered two fatal blows.
Christian Eriksen started from the bench for the hosts, with the future of the Denmark international the source of much contention.
Real Madrid have been credited with an interest owing to the later closure of the transfer window across Europe.