He's still a kid – Pochettino backs Alli

Dele Alli is a kid who still needs support, according to Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli   -  Getty Images

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino backed Dele Alli, reminding critics the midfielder was "still a kid".

Alli, 21, has been unable to find his best form consistently this season and played just 22 minutes in England's friendlies against Netherlands and Italy.

England boss Gareth Southgate was unwilling to guarantee Alli a starting spot for the World Cup, which is less than three months away.

But Pochettino again backed Alli, who has been the PFA Young Player of the Year the past two seasons.

"I have full confidence in him and his talent and because I know him. He is a great kid and a very good person," he said.

"But he is young. He is 21. If you compare [him] with normal people on the street who are 21, they are still living at home with their parents, they are still at university doing stupid things.

"Sometimes we expect too much and we put too much pressure on 21-year-old players. Sometimes we forget and treat them like 40-year-old men.

"It's not like this. We need to be focused on him being still a kid. It's a lot of pressure on his shoulders and not always can he act how the people and the society expect. That is so important to understand.

"We are going to help him because he is a talented player and a great kid. And he has done a lot for us and the club."

Alli has six goals and nine assists in the league this season, down from his 2016-17 (18 goals, seven assists) and 2015-16 (10 goals, nine assists) campaigns.

Pochettino feels the attention on Alli is unfair, saying the midfielder was capable of being a key player for Spurs and England.

"You can see every time that we play away from home, the fans focus on him and it's a moment to stop and try to help because, for me, Dele would be such an important player for England, not only for Tottenham," he said.

"It's not to give presents but, yes, to help him because he is a talent. For every player there are tough moments and in those situations the most important thing from my side is to support Dele – but not be funny with him or nice.

"Sometimes you need to push him and be tough. Those situations are in my manager's room and we have a lot of chats. It's about trying to help a very talented player, an English player."

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