Pochettino praises 'excellent' Spurs medics for Vertonghen care

Mauricio Pochettino insists his players' health will always be the priority as he again defended how Tottenham's medical staff dealt with Jan Vertonghen's head injury during Tuesday's Champions League semi-final defeat to Ajax. 

Vertonghen was left bloodied after an aerial challenge involving Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana and team-mate Toby Alderweireld at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, during the first half of a first-leg encounter the visitors won 1-0. 

The Belgium defender received lengthy treatment and attempted to carry on after changing his kit but, in a worrying spectacle, he was forced to make way after finding himself on unsteady legs near the touchline. 

Vertonghen's treatment and the extent to which concussion protocols were followed have since come in for considerable scrutiny. 

Tottenham issued a statement on Wednesday to state their staff adhered to guidelines when assessing the injury sustained by Vertonghen, who underwent further tests and visited a neurologist on Thursday having reported no ill-effects. 

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Spurs' Premier League trip to Bournemouth, Pochettino again defended his medical team and maintained a high-stakes European encounter would always be of secondary importance to the safety of his players. 

"I think the most important thing for us is and always will be the health of the players. The game, the result in the semi-final of the Champions League is less important than the health of the players," he said. 

"That's our priority always. I don't know if we need to change the rules and have another [independent] doctor.  

"For me, at every single one of my clubs, the doctors are independent. All the decisions they make are protecting the health of the players.  

"I explained to the players they can say whatever they want on the pitch but the bosses are the medical staff. My coaches and myself are going to say nothing against the medical staff.  

"My rule at Southampton and my rule from the first day here is that my priority is the health of the players. The priority is always the person. 

"For me, if the doctor said to me that he has some doubts, I'm more than happy to change the player. I'm not going to risk any player. 

"You can see on TV what happened. Our medical staff were excellent and followed the protocol. I respect them because I'm professional about football, not medicine." 

Pochettino will wait until all the information from Vertonghen's tests is available before making a decision over his weekend participation. 

"We still didn't receive the [neurologist's] report," he said. "After the game he was good, more relaxed. I think he felt better. Now we need to receive the report. 

"We don't know [if he can play on Saturday]. We still need to wait. That's a decision for the medical staff. We cannot guess now. We hope it's not a big issue and he's back as soon as possible." 

 

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