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English Premier League 2016-17

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino concedes ‘maybe one player is not happy’ with Hong Kong trip

English Premier League runners-up face Hong Kong champions Kitchee next Friday at Hong Kong Stadium in a hastily-arranged postseason friendly

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 6:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 6:45pm

Manager Mauricio Pochettino claims reports of unrest within his Tottenham squad over next week’s friendly with Kitchee in Hong Kong are “wrong” but conceded “maybe 1 per cent or one player is not happy”.

English Premier League runners-up Spurs face Hong Kong champions Kitchee next Friday at Hong Kong Stadium in a hastily-arranged postseason friendly, which comes less than a week after the end of the top-flight domestic season in England on Sunday.

Reports emerged prior to the announcement of the game last week that “some of the team’s stars are unhappy they must play one more game”, particularly with a large number of Tottenham’s squad set to feature in internationals at the start of June.

Youngsters Kyle Walker-Peters, Joshua Onomah and Cameron Carter-Vickers will not travel with the squad due to their international commitments, while England left back Danny Rose has undergone exploratory surgery on his left knee and is not set to be fit until the start of next season.

“Look, two months ago, all of us spoke about the situation and we all agreed that if we did not get to the FA Cup final, we would need to help the club and go there and spend four or five days,” Pochettino told a press conference.

“The rumours in the media are wrong. Maybe 1 per cent or one player is not happy, but the rest of the group is so, so, so happy to help the club.

“Liverpool, the same, Manchester City maybe the same. Do you think it is properly a holiday if we go to Hong Kong or not? The players need to play and keep fit [before the internationals].

Tottenham players withdraw from squad for money-spinning Kitchee friendly match in Hong Kong

“I think we are helping because we are going to Hong Kong, have a nice time and train. These days, if you do not go now, you have to be there in preseason. In preseason, it is worse to go there when you want better conditions to be ready.”

Kitchee boss Ken Ng Kin confirmed Tottenham are contractually obliged to bring and field a full-strength side, and are expected to include star striker Harry Kane and midfielder Dele Alli having secured their best finish in the English top-flight since 1963.

“If you are in a big club, look at Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern [Munich], all the big clubs are involved in tournaments,” added Pochettino. “It’s not changed too much because if we had beaten Chelsea and were in the FA Cup final, we’d be playing.

“I think it was a very good deal with the players, who are happy to go there. It’s a week to keep fit and enjoy, too.

“It’s good for the club to be there. If you want good facilities, one of the best stadiums in the world, then I think it is impossible to stop this type of situation. It is very good for the club.”