Mauricio Pochettino denies having an eye on FA Cup semi-final

‘It was a moment to give some fresh legs to the team but we were thinking about trying to win’

 Mauricio Pochettino and Chris Hughton after the draw in Brighton. Photograph: Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino and Chris Hughton after the draw in Brighton. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Mauricio Pochettino insists he was not thinking about Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United when he rested players for the Premier League draw with Brighton.

Spurs boss Pochettino made six changes to his starting XI at the Amex Stadium and then saw his team drop two points in their quest to secure Champions League qualification.

Despite the 1-1 draw, the north London club remain in a strong position to finish in the top four, eight points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea.

Tottenham now turn their attention to the weekend meeting with Jose Mourinho’s United at Wembley as they attempt to end a 10-year wait for silverware.

And Pochettino was adamant the important cup clash had no bearing on his team selection on Tuesday.

“I was thinking today and trying to win,” said Pochettino.

“Some players needed to rest, some players needed to stay on the bench and I think we have a strong squad.

“Everyone is ready to play and it was a moment to give some fresh legs to the team but we were thinking about trying to win.

“We tried to add to the team fresh legs to match them in the physical condition and I think the season is tough for some players that play a lot.

“But (I am) always thinking about trying to win today, not next Saturday.”

England midfielder Dele Alli and centre-back Davinson Sanchez were omitted from Pochettino’s squad in Sussex, while Kieran Trippier, Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier and Erik Lamela dropped to the bench.

The numerous alterations looked to have had little effect when top-scorer Harry Kane swept Spurs ahead early in the second half with his 26th league goal of the season.

But the advantage did not last long as Pascal Gross soon equalised from the penalty spot following Serge Aurier’s clumsy foul on Jose Izquierdo.

Home supporters greeted the final whistle with joyous celebrations as their battling team moved eight points clear of the relegation zone with four games remaining.

Manager Chris Hughton, however, believes the Seagulls still have work to do in order to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Asked if he felt his team were now safe, Hughton replied: “No and only because I can’t afford to think that way.

“Probably the most important thing on my mind now is making sure that we can try and put in the same type of effort and the same type of performance in these last four games.

“We were well worthy of the draw that we got.”

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