Dembele in Pochettino's plans
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino insists Mousa Dembele has a future at White Hart Lane.
The Belgium international's career has been the subject of uncertainty since Pochettino's appointment as Spurs boss last summer.
He was often left out of Pochettino's first-choice midfield and was widely considered unsuited to the Argentinian's preferred intense, high-pressing style of play, but the Tottenham manager believes the player can be a success at the north London club and is working on inspiring an improvement from him.
"Yes, he's in my plans, Dembele," said Pochettino, whose team begin the Barclays Premier League season at Manchester United on Saturday lunchtime.
"I think we need to try to provide him (with a platform) to show his real quality here. It's true the last season was difficult for him, but (not) only was it difficult for him at Tottenham - with his national team too.
"It's for that reason we need to try to provide him the best position on the pitch or try to find the best position for him, to show the quality that he has.
"We don't have doubts but if he doesn't play, [others believe we have] doubts. I think it is all about football. We need to try stuff to help every player and Mousa is another player we need to help to try to give him the chance of giving his best when he has the facility to play."
In their final pre-season friendlies, Spurs lost 2-0 to Real Madrid on Tuesday before beating AC Milan by the same scoreline a day later.
That unusual schedule so close to their opening Premier League fixture prompted concerns about their conditioning, but Pochettino remained relaxed and said that his only fitness doubts surrounded Ryan Mason, Roberto Soldado and Hugo Lloris.
"We need to assess Hugo, Mason, Soldado, and after take a decision," he said. "Two games was not too much. We shared minutes in the squad. When you play AC Milan or Madrid you need to be focused and aware. It is like you have started the season a week before. Two games was a very good test for us.
"[Manchester United away is] not an easy start. It is never easy in the Premier League and all games are difficult.
"For us it is better to start with Manchester United at Old Trafford. We have experience. We arrive from Munich and played Real Madrid and AC Milan, so we are fit to compete."