Tottenham’s Alderweireld ruled out with injury

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Happy Birthday to Toby Alderweireld and his manager at Tottenham Mauricio Pochettino.

Now, onto the important stuff…

Alderweireld has been ruled out of Tottenham Hotspur’s huge UEFA Champions League clash against Juventus at Wembley next Wednesday.

The Belgian defender, 29, made his return in two FA Cup games in February but hasn’t featured in the Premier League since injuring his hamstring in Spurs’ UCL win against Real Madrid back on Nov. 1.

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Speculation regarding his future at Tottenham beyond this season has been rife as talks over a new contract stall and a release clause in his current deal could see him leave for $32 million in the summer of 2019. Alderweireld is being linked with a move to Manchester United, Real Madrid and others and this injury layoff has done little to quell the rumors.

Speaking in his press conference ahead of Spurs’ clash with Huddersfield Town (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com), Mauricio Pochettino confirmed Alderweireld will be missing for the key clash against Juventus with the scores locked at 2-2 after the first leg in Turin.

“It is true that we need to be careful with him,” Pochettino said. “I don’t believe he will be ready for Juventus.”

Who could slot in alongside Alderweireld’s compatriot Jan Vertonghen?

Spurs could revert to a back four and start Davinson Sanchez at center back alongside Vertonghen, or Eric Dier could slot back in to defense if Spurs decided to play three central defenders against Huddersfield.

With the top four chase well and truly on and Spurs the form team in the Premier League, there is no need to rush¬†Alderweireld back. Yet you get a sense that more is going on here. Is Pochettino punishing¬†Alderweireld for not signing a new deal? The Argentine coach has a reputation of being a manager who is ruthless when it comes to having players on his side. You’re either in his good books, or you’re out.

There’s a sense it could be a case of the latter for Alderweireld.