Christian Eriksen did not start against Aston Villa purely due to a lack of fitness.
That’s according to Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, who introduced the Denmark international in the second half to help change the course of the game.
Harry Kane finally broke his duck at Tottenham’s new stadium as his late double earned a 3-1 win over Villa that looked in doubt for a long time.
Kane had gone three games without troubling the scorers at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but he put that right with two goals in four minutes to seal the three points in what was a curious early evening in north London.
Spurs looked like starting the new Premier League campaign with a defeat after John McGinn’s early opener gave Villa a dream start to life back in the big time.
Tanguy Ndombele showed just why Tottenham broke their transfer record to bring him to the club with a fine leveller 17 minutes from time before Kane stole the headlines with two clinical finishes that masked a match that provided more questions than answers.
Although Kane and Ndombele were the goalscorers it was the introduction off the bench of Eriksen that turned the game, with Mauricio Pochettino choosing not to start the Denmark midfielder as his future at the club remains uncertain.
But the Argentine insists the decision was based on physical conditioning as opposed to tactical tinkering.
“We knew he could not play 90 minutes but I think from the bench he was fresh and the opening was a little bit tiring,” Pochettino told talkSPORT’s James Savundra.
“And his quality of course, was a good help for the team to win.
“Physical because after the international duty in summer after the final I think, you know, he had surgery in his abdominal.
“But it’s normal, the summer was difficult for him and of course he is still not 100% because he needs to build his fitness.
“But I think as soon as possible he is going to be fit again to have the opportunity to play 90 minutes.”
While there is much confusion over Eriksen, no such problems have hindered record signing Ndombele, who grabbed the vital equaliser with a rasping drive from outside the box.
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Despite an emphatic debut in front of the adoring Spurs fans, Pochettino believes the 22-year-old is capable of producing even more in time.
“He still needs time,” Pochettino continued. “I think always when a player arrives from a different country and so young how he is he needs time.
“But he has such a great talent and of course I am happy for him, pleased for him because to score is going to help on his debut.
“And of course, not to put too much pressure on him, he is going to be a great player but he still needs to improve a lot.”