Jose Mourinho has praised the way Dele Alli has handled being frozen out of recent Tottenham squads.
The 24-year-old has only featured in two of Spurs’ six matches this season and did not make it past 60 minutes in either, which is not a good sign considering their gruelling schedule which is stretching their squad to the limits.
As a result, he has been linked with a move away from Spurs before the transfer window ends.
After playing for 60 minutes in last week’s Europa League qualifier against Shkendija, he was then omitted from the matchday 18 for games against Newcastle on Sunday and Chelsea on Tuesday night.
Mourinho refused to confirm whether he would be involved in Thursday’s Europa League play-off against Maccabi Haifa, but has been impressed with his reaction to being left out of the team.
“I cannot confirm Dele’s playing but I cannot confirm he’s not playing,” he said. “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.”
While Spurs’ punishing schedule of eight games in 22 days comes to an end at Manchester United on Sunday, there is no respite for their players who will head off on international duty to play another three games in seven days.
Mourinho has called for protection for his players by their national team managers and in particular hopes Gareth Southgate looks after Harry Kane.
“When Kane is fit, he also should start every game for Tottenham, but he didn’t yesterday (against Chelsea). So I think this is the point,” Mourinho said.
“When you have such a player and you want to win every match, you play him, but you just can’t do it.
“You know, I believe that Gareth [Southgate] and Steve [Holland] they care about the players and I don’t think they want to be connected with something that can be a consequence of this week and the three international matches, which is obviously too much, especially for my players.
“So I don’t speak with Gareth or even with Steve, and of course with Steve I am a very good friend of him. I just let them do the job in the way they want to do it with the freedom they deserve.
“I didn’t speak with Ryan Giggs either. I just leave with them the respect they will have for their players. The players are our players but also theirs.
“Hopefully Gareth and Steve understand what happened with Tottenham this week and they respect the players.
“That’s just my hope but I’m not going to call, or ask, or beg. I’m not going to press. I think they deserve their freedom and I have the utmost respect for them.”
Mourinho will feel much better about things if he is able to bring another striker in to ease the workload on Kane before next Monday’s international transfer deadline.
“I am optimistic, but more than that the feeling that I like is that we are trying everything to do it,” he said. “You succeed, you don’t succeed is a different story.
“It’s like a football match: you win, you don’t win. But you give everything and you try everything.
“In the transfer market, it’s more of the same. I like the fact that my club, my transfer structure is trying to do everything to do it for us, to do it for the team. that’s the most important thing for me. If we succeed, great. I believe so. If we don’t, that’s football.”
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