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Pochettino issues Rochdale pitch apology

Spurs boss takes his team to Crown Oil Arena on Sunday.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has apologised to Rochdale after he claimed their pitch was “not in a condition to play football” and posed a “massive risk” to his players.

Spurs, who turned in a tremendous fightback to draw 2-2 with Italian champions Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash earlier this week, will head to the more humble surroundings of Rochdale’s Crown Oil Arena in the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday.

Pochettino had expressed his concerns over the turf at the League One club but they have since spent £500,000 re-laying their pitch to ensure the surface is ready for the visit of his high-flying Premier League side.

“I want to apologise to the people in Rochdale, the chairman, and the people who took my comment the wrong way,” Pochettino said.

“My comment was about the care, first of all for the Rochdale players, our players, and the competition that all of England watches on TV.

“After the replay against Newport, I was with my coaching staff and they showed me a picture from Rochdale’s pitch after their tie against Millwall and it was not in a great condition.

“I was conscious about the FA Cup, the football, and the image that we are going to sell, but the care for the players, too.

“Now, when I see the pictures and videos of the pitch on the Rochdale website, I need to congratulate them because the effort was massive to get it in the best condition to play without risk.

“The conditions are fantastic so I congratulate them. The effort has been massive, and again, I apologise if someone took my words in the wrong way.”

Pochettino is set to ring the changes for the trip to Spotland, with Harry Kane, who has scored an incredible 33 goals this season, an injury doubt.

Following victories against Manchester United and Arsenal, and their Champions League draw in Turin, Spurs will be expected to comfortably seal their progression through to the quarter-finals.

But Pochettino is expecting Rochdale to provide a sterner test of his in-form side’s credentials than their north London rivals or indeed Juventus.

“What is important is to forget what happened in Turin or against Arsenal,” Pochettino added.  “We don’t have time to enjoy that we won the derby, or our draw in Turin and how we played in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

“This is a different game, a different competition and it will be tough.

“For me it will be a tougher game than Juventus or Arsenal because it is a challenge to be motivated in a competition that we want to go far in, but you have to perform at your best if you want to win.”

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