Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says goalkeeper Hugo Lloris will lead the club out at their new stadium despite his costly error in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Liverpool.
The Spurs captain has come under scrutiny since his fumble led to Toby Alderweireld’s decisive own goal at Anfield – the latest in a growing list of mistakes both on and off the pitch this season.
Pochettino has always backed his goalkeeper, even in the wake of a drink-driving charge earlier in the campaign, and again confirmed that Lloris would be skipper for Spurs’ first game in their new home against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
“He is my captain,” Pochettino said. “He’s one of the best keepers in the world. There’s no doubt.
“There’s no doubt that Hugo is one of the best and he’s going to be in the goal tomorrow.
“It’s a situation that is so painful because I think we deserved more (at Liverpool), but in that kind of situation, which happens in football, it’s only to be strong and back our player.
“I think Hugo is going to be, like always, great for us. He was great for us.
“He was so important in all that process in five years, and for sure he’s going to be one of the most important players for the future of the club too.”
Spurs’ return home to their 62,062-seater stadium could not have come at a better time as their season has hit the buffers in recent weeks.
They have taken just one point from their past five Premier League games, which has seen them not only drop out of the title race but also put their top-four place in serious peril.
There were signs of promise in the defeat to Liverpool, which could easily have gone the other way, and Pochettino is sure that their new home will be graced by Champions League football next term.
“Of course, the best stadium in the world must have the Champions League,” the Argentinian added.
“It would be a shame to not be in the next Champions League.
“But we are going to fight. We are in the top four, disappointed with the last result but of course it’s not the same.
“Against Liverpool we deserved more, played really well second half, the feeling was so good. Playing like this I have no doubts we are going to be in the top four and playing in the Champions League next season.
“It’s in our hands. It’s a mini-league and playing five games in our new stadium will be a big boost for our players and fans. It’s up to us to achieve that.”
Tottenham, who have been playing at Wembley for the past two years, have had a painstaking wait to return home following frustrating delays this season, which have postponed their moving in date from August 2018 to April 2019.
But Pochettino is ready for a special day in the club’s history.
“It’s going to be very special, at last the new stadium is a reality,” he said. “Now it’s so close, just over 24 hours until we play in our new home.
“It’s an exciting moment in the history of the club. Everyone will realise tomorrow the magnitude of the project.
“I was talking with (chairman) Daniel (Levy) before. When he and all the people started to think about the new project in 2001, after 18 years that dream has become a reality.
“It’s amazing, an exciting moment for our fans and players but it is a special moment for Daniel Levy our chairman. He started with this idea and had the vision to deliver it.”
Harry Winks will be involved after his recent groin injury, but Eric Dier, Fernando Llorente, Serge Aurier and Erik Lamela will all miss out.
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