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Mauricio Pochettino has said he felt the love for Dele Alli in Milton Keynes during Tottenham’s EFL Cup victory over Watford on Wednesday night.

The third round clash took place at Stadium MK following continued confusion over Spurs’ stadium situation, and Dele Alli was handed the captaincy on his first return to his boyhood club since leaving for London.

Alli scored a penalty in normal time and converted the final spot-kick in the shootout to send Tottenham through to the fourth round following Paulo Gazzaniga’s heroics.

And after the game, Pochttino explained why he handed Alli the armband.

“I gave him the armband because it was so exciting for him to play here in his home town,” Pochettino said (via BBC Sport).

“It is difficult for him to have another possibility to play here again and I wanted to provide him a very good feeling. I hope he appreciates a lot my gesture.

“He was inspired by the occasion. To play here he was so excited. The energy in the previous day was amazing.”

“We can feel here the love that the people feel for him and that was fantastic for us.

“For him it is an experience he will remember for all of his life. To be Tottenham captain and score is a fantastic night for him.”

Alli was making his first start since the defeat at Vicarage Road because of a muscle strain, and the 22-year-old will surely be in the starting line-up against Huddersfield this weekend after proving his fitness on Wednesday.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Alli spoke of his intention to be a leader on the pitch after getting a feel for the captaincy.

He said: “If you asked the boys about my speech before they might disagree, but I think I want to be a leader out there anyway and whether I’ve got the armband or not it’s important that that is my mentality.”

The fourth round draw will take place on Saturday at 9pm.

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