Roberto Martinez says Toby Alderweireld needs to play more football for Tottenham ahead of Belgium’s World Cup campaign.
Alderweireld suffered a serious hamstring injury during Tottenham’s memorable Champions League victory over Real Madrid at Wembley back in November.
The defender returned in Ferbruary, but Mauricio Pochettino has repeatedly questioned his match fitness and refused to select him for a number of games.
He was handed a start in the FA Cup against Rochdale but looked far from fresh as the League One side took Spurs to surprise replay.
So it came as a bit of a surprise to see Alderweireld’s included in the Belgium squad for the recent international break.
Martinez claimed the 29-year-old was fully fit ahead of Belgium’s two friendlies, and Alderweireld made it through 90 minutes in a 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia.
But the Belgium manager thinks the centre-back must now get more minutes for his club.
“Every player needs to get a really good period of football now,” he told reporters (via Sky Sports).
“Seven weeks is not a lot of time. Certain players that play a lot of minutes, the playing time now is not essential. But other players who have not played that much, and Toby can be one of those. It is important.
“But what you see with Toby is that urgency and the defensive, natural habit of intercepting any threat around him. It was great to see that he was really strong in the last 15 minutes physically.”
There have been suggestions Alderweireld’s recent absences at Spurs have more to do with his contract situation than his fitness.
It will be interesting to see if he is involved when Tottenham travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea this weekend.