Toby Alderwiereld has been left out of the Tottenham Hotspur squad to face Juventus as he regains match fitness – but in being sidelined for such an important game, questions will be raised about his future.
The defender has made just 10 Premier League appearances for the Lilywhites since the start of the season before being ruled out for three months with a hamstring injury.
The Belgian returned to action in the Spurs starting XI in the FA Cup replay tie against Newport County and was hopeful of being included in the squad that traveled to Turin this week for the Champions League knockout match against Juventus.
Mauricio Pochettino, however, has not included the 28-year-old in his traveling squad – which has prompted uneasy speculation about his future.
The defender will not be happy that he has been excluded from playing in a game that is arguably one of the most important for the club of the campaign so far.
The Belgian’s contract with Spurs expires next summer, and talks to extend have stalled. His current deal contains a one-year extension option until 2020 – though also includes a £25m release clause.
As with the Spurs boss’s treatment of Erik Lamela and Danny Rose, he typically tries to make sure his injury-stricken players are up to full match-fitness before they return to first-team action.
Alderwiereld’s exclusion from the traveling Spurs team could be just due to match-fitness – as one 90-minute spell against Newport County would not be sufficient enough game time to prep for a crucial Champions League knockout tie.
Spurs face Juventus away in Turin on Tuesday.