Dele Alli needs ‘protection’ from his “new reality” after his swift elevation into the England squad, Tottenham manager Maurcio Pochettino believes.
Alli started his first England game on Tuesday against France and put in a man-of-the-match performance while scoring a goal. England coach Roy Hodgson described his performance as close to faultless, while the player himself insists he still has plenty to learn despite all the plaudits coming his way.
“I think we need to be careful with him because a lot of things have changed with him now, in his new reality,” said Pochettino. “We need to protect him.
“It’s impossible to stop all of that around him but we need to protect him to try to make sure he keeps his feet on the ground so he can keep developing his potential.”
There had been some talk of a new contract for Alli, but the Argentine said: “Step by step. If you deserve it, in the end the club always gives you all that you deserve.”
Pochettino was also keen to stress that his faith in young English players is only part of his philosophy, saying: “Our responsibility is firstly to provide the club where you work with an identity and a good balance.
“Maybe today everyone’s speaking about the English players that we have at Tottenham, but to be fair we have very good players from outside too and they deserve the full credit too – like Hugo [Lloris], like [Jan] Vertonghen, [Heung-Min] Son, [Erik] Lamela, [Nacer] Chadli, [Christian] Eriksen, [Mousa] Dembele and all of them.
“We always speak about balance because the younger players need the senior players to feel confidence on the pitch. For me, football is about balance, not only on the pitch but in the dressing room.”