Dele Alli should start for Tottenham at Southampton

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Mauricio Pochettino won’t be on the touchline for Tottenham on Saturday at Southampton, but Dele Alli should be back in the Spurs starting XI.

Many Tottenham fans are so caught up in Mauricio Pochettino’s status on Saturday that they’ve forgotten the good news that’s headed Spurs way. Dele Alli should make his long-awaited return to the pitch against Southampton. In fact, his fitness levels should be good enough to put him in the starting XI against the Saints.

The key factor for Dele is that he returned to first team training before his teammates made the trip to Dortmund midweek. That conservative decision gave the talented attacker several extra days on the training ground to improve his fitness levels. That’s why it’s reasonable to think he’ll be a starter on Saturday.

His return comes at a great time for a Tottenham squad that can really use a boost. Spirits for the club are relatively high after the 1-0 win in Germany, but that doesn’t change the pressure on Spurs to turn their domestic form around. Pochettino’s club have only taken one point from their last three Premier League matches. Tottenham are still hanging on to third place in the league table, but their lead over both Manchester United and Arsenal has shrunken dramatically over the last two weeks.

Three points on the South Coast wouldn’t completely erase that ugly stretch of matches, but it would give Tottenham some much-needed momentum in the league. Getting Dele’s penchant for goal scoring from the midfield back into the mix should make that job much easier for his teammates.

In particular, Tottenham have missed Dele’s piercing runs from the midfield during his absence. Players like Christian Eriksen and Heung-Min Son are dangerous attackers on their own right, but neither can really trouble defenders from deep in the same fashion Dele can. That makes the young Englishman one of Pochettino’s most irreplaceable players.

The fact that Harry Winks is a major doubt for the match also increases the likelihood of Dele getting the start. Putting Eric Dier into the starting XI will help solidify Tottenham’s defence, but he doesn’t add much going forward. Even more onus will be placed on the attacking midfield to pressure Southampton’s defence with Dier in the double-pivot.

NEXT: Danny Rose will play more midfield for Tottenham

The return of Dele to the pitch won’t cure all of Tottenham’s ills, but it should go a long way towards re-energizing his squad for the stretch run. That’s great news for Spurs and bad news for clubs looking to knock them off in the coming weeks

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