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Mauricio Pochettino not making FA Cup a priority ahead of Rochdale clash

Spurs head to Spotland on Sunday with a quarter-final spot at stake.

An ambitious Mauricio Pochettino insists Tottenham must put the FA Cup on the backburner as he bids to build a squad capable of challenging for Premier League and European glory.

Pochettino’s side face League One Rochdale on Sunday in the fifth round of this year’s competition following a remarkable comeback draw against Juventus in the opening leg of their last-16 Champions League tie in Turin.

An in-form Spurs have also recorded consecutive victories against top-six heavyweights’ Manchester United and Arsenal in a nine-match unbeaten Premier League run, but the FA Cup – with both the semi-final and showpiece played at their temporary Wembley home – appears to remain their best bet of ending a decade-long trophy drought.

Yet Pochettino believes Spurs, starved of silverware since winning the 2008 League Cup, while failing to win the FA Cup in nearly three decades, should be aiming higher than the world’s oldest club competition.

“I hear a lot about winning trophies and in the last 10 years there has been a lot of examples with coaches who win trophies like the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and yet six months after they were sacked,” Pochettino said.

“You need to have your expectation to win the Champions League but you can’t arrive within four or five years and then win the Champions League. You can maybe win the FA Cup, League Cup, if you say, ‘OK, in five years we are going to win the FA Cup or League Cup’, then you protect your best player for the FA Cup, forget the Premier League, and forget being in the top four.

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“We need to think about winning big trophies like the Champions League. The pressure is to win the Champions League and also the Premier League.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t want to win the FA Cup or League Cup but in this process, to build a team to win or to get a winning mentality, is normal.

“It’s about finding the right balance and if Tottenham is able to be consistent, get in the top four then maybe it’s a moment to stop and focus on winning a title like the FA Cup and it would be fantastic to put everything in this competition.”

Pochettino is set to rest several star men for the trip to Spotland Stadium with top scorer Harry Kane due to undergo a fitness test on Saturday as he contends with a twisted ankle.

Kane’s likely absence could pave the way for Lucas Moura to make his first start for Tottenham following his January move from Paris-Saint Germain.

“We believe Lucas can cope with this kind of game, and if he’s going to play on Sunday it’s because he’s ready,” Pochettino added.

“He has the capacity one vs one, he’s so explosive and fast, he’s strong. He has some qualities that will be good for the team.”


From Belfast Telegraph