Mauricio Pochettino believes Dele Alli has the ability to play anywhere on the pitch after the midfielder played an instrumental role in Tottenham’s 2-1 victory over Southampton.
With talisman Harry Kane sidelined through injury, Spurs’ midfield chipped in to fill the void as Christian Eriksen opened the scoring before Alli slotted home from the spot.
Recent England call-up James Ward-Prowse trimmed Tottenham’s lead in a second half which saw Alli temporarily play up front, with the 20-year-old having now taken his season’s tally to 18 goals in all competitions.
Despite signing Alli as a holding midfielder from MK Dons, Pochettino has embraced the England international’s versatility.
“I saw him at 17 years old playing at Milton Keynes as a holding midfielder against Manchester United. And I don’t know, always he can surprise me,” the Spurs boss said.
“Maybe one day he can play like a goalkeeper or a full-back or a centre-back. I think it is difficult to respond to that (question) because he is a player who plays in his best position, he is a player who likes to run into the box, he is very often very clever into the box.
“In the box he looks like a striker because he is more than clever, he has made his mark. Outside the box he is playing like a midfielder. Dele Alli always can surprise and you cannot guess with him. He has an unbelievable personality and character.”
Pochettino also had praise for Son Heung-min and Vincent Janssen, who will both come under scrutiny in Kane’s absence, and the Argentinian gave a vote of confidence for the latter as he insisted the Dutchman will feature more in the coming weeks.
“He (Janssen) will now have the possibility to play more and be more involved. Today showed great, great energy when he came on,” Pochettino added.
“I think (Son’s performance) was good. He had some chances to score and showed some great movement behind the defensive line. He worked well with Dele and Christian and I am very pleased with his performance.”
The Tottenham boss also dismissed speculation over a possible injury to Kyle Walker, who sustained a minor thumb problem.
Meanwhile, Saints manager Claude Puel felt his side should have been given a penalty by referee Andre Marriner in a game which he believes should been a draw.
Moments after Alli picked himself up to convert from the penalty spot, Spurs full-back Ben Davies appeared to have fouled Dusan Tadic in the box but Marriner ignored Southampton’s protests.
Puel was adamant that his side deserved a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
“If the referee gives a penalty for their second goal then he needed to give a penalty for us,” Puel said.
“I cannot see the difference. Two teams were at the same level. It was difficult for the two teams to find opportunities. Each team tried to play good football, without a lot of opportunities, but I think we stayed with a good spirit. A draw seems normal for me.”
The Frenchman also confirmed striker Manolo Gabbiadini will almost certainly miss international duty with Italy next week after he was forced off early.
Puel added: “It’s a groin injury and we will see with all the (scans). I hope it is not bad but for his national team, it is not possible for him to go.”