Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says Dele Alli “cannot be changed” after the youngster was handed a three-game ban for violent conduct.
The 20-year-old midfielder has been banned for punching West Brom’s Claudio Yacob in Monday’s frustrating 1-1 draw with West Brom at White Hart Lane.
It is not the first time Alli has been guilty of ill-discipline this season but Pochettino, who admitted Alli was deliberately provoked by the Baggies, said the England man simply made a mistake in the game which saw Tottenham’s title hopes all-but disappear.
“He has a very strong character and personality and for that he is one of the best players in England. We cannot change him but he made a mistake, everyone can make mistakes,” said Pochettino, who has verbally agreed a new deal with the club.
“It is true when you make a mistake you need to pay and he knows he made a mistake. It is his first season in the Premier League. He is a talented player but he knows.
“It was an action that nobody feels proud of that but it is only a mistake, one mistake, a small mistake. He has paid for that and should learn from that.”
Alli is likely to be a key figure for England at Euro 2016 this summer and his suspension may at least allow him to recuperate before the tournament starts.
The youngster’s absence will be felt when Spurs play Chelsea on Monday but Pochettino said he will continue to train as normal until the end of the campaign.
“It is very important that he keeps his performance and all the levels of physical condition,” Pochettino added.
“He will be selected for the Euros and needs to keep his level. For us it is true the next few weeks he cannot play but he needs to work, maybe a little bit more to keep his physical level.”