Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says he has full respect for Dele Alli, as the midfielder fights for a role in the team this season.
Alli has only featured in two of Spurs’ six games this term, playing less than 60 minutes in both matches.
Indeed he played an hour against Shkendija in the Europa League last week but did then not make it in the squads for Sunday’s clash with Newcastle or Tuesday’s win over Chelsea.
Mourinho has previously rejected speculation that the England international could move away; instead the manager has said his squad is too big and needs cutting.
Spurs play Maccabi Haifa on Thursday but Mourinho gave a puzzling answer when asked in his pre-match press conference if he will involve Alli in proceedings.
“I cannot confirm Dele’s playing but I cannot confirm he’s not playing,” he told reporters. “We have still training sessions, we have still decisions to make.
“The only thing I can say is he’s being very, very professional. I have only respect for him. He’s being very professional, particularly on Tuesday when the team was preparing for the game and he wasn’t.
“It would be perfectly acceptable to have a lack of motivation, even a lack of professionalism for this training session but it was exactly the opposite.
“He trained very hard. He has my respect and the respect of his team-mates so it’s possible he plays.”
Mourinho delighted with Ndombele progression
Meanwhile, one Spurs star who has begun to settle is midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. The Frenchman suffered from injury problems in last season’s debut campaign, struggling to play 90 minutes on several occasions.
However the club-record signing has played a vital role of late, including a 90-minute stint against Chelsea.
The manager said: “He was very tired after the game, there is even a picture with everyone running to Hugo Lloris after the last penalty and Tanguy is not going.
“He is playing amazing. He is playing so, so well. You can feel the happiness and a happy player his performance goes in the right direction.
“Physically he can be better, he has to be better, he will be better, but in this moment if you compare this Tanguy with the Tanguy of last season, the Tanguy of this pre-season – a pre-season he did not have much of because of his injury and other problems – there is no point in comparing because they are so different.
“Yesterday I had a big hug with him, even before the penalties, even before the victory, just for the feeling of what he gave for the 90 minutes.
“I am very happy with Tanguy. But he can be better because he can be really phenomenal.”