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Mauricio Pochettino has defended Dele Alli after the 21-year-old’s mixed start to the season.

Alli has scored twice already this term but missed Tottenham’s win over Borussia Dortmund through suspension and could face a further sanction from FIFA for his middle finger gesture while playing for England.

The attacker struggled in Spurs’ goalless draw with Swansea on Saturday, but Pochettino claims he will start against Barnsley.

“Yes, he is going to play,” said Pochettino. “I think he is still very young. His potential is massive. He did very well last season and it’s not easy for a young player to keep this level and show this level in every game.

“It is about maturity. It’s about finding your balance in training, competing, in your life, everything. The player is not only what we see on the pitch.

“He is not a number. We need to see the player as having a lot of things around them happening. He is not just furniture.

“There are a lot of things that affect them, that are around them when you are young. I was like Dele, I was from zero to 100. You need to find your balance.”

Tottenham are reportedly set to offer Alli a new £100,000-a-week deal amid rumours he is being courted by two of football’s most powerful agents.

The supporters will be hoping Alli can put his disciplinary and financial issues behind him as soon as possible for the good of the team.

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