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Mauricio Pochettino refuses to use illness as an excuse for Southampton draw

Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham’s players were hit by a virus last week but insisted that was no excuse for their sloppy display against Southampton.

Christian Eriksen was a surprise absentee from the Spurs squad as he and Hugo Lloris were both struck down by illness and unable to travel to the south coast.

Harry Kane cancelled out Davinson Sanchez’s own-goal but a below-par Tottenham were held to a 1-1 draw and missed the chance to move into the Premier League’s top four.

They will fall five points behind Liverpool if Jurgen Klopp’s men beat Swansea on Monday.

Pochetttino, who took his team on a warm-weather training camp to Barcelona last week, would not name the players affected by illness as he maintained they had all recovered.

“A few players were affected last week but it’s not an excuse,” Pochettino said.

“We are disappointed because our game wasn’t great, our performance wasn’t the best. The game was even and full credit to Southampton because they fight and play well.

“I think it is a fair result in the end, 1-1. There were massive chances we had in the last minute with Harry Kane but at the end if you analyse the game it’s a fair result.”

Pochettino also referenced the bobbling pitch at St Mary’s, which contributed to an attritional match, full of loose touches and misplaced passes.

Spurs now find themselves in danger of losing touch with the Champions League spots, ahead of three crunch league games against Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal.

“Of course they will be important for us,” Pochettino said.

“It is important if we are going to take points and win the games, be sure that we are going to fight and if not, it will be difficult.”

Pochettino refused to be drawn on more reports linking Kane with a move to Real Madrid and also played down the club’s chances of making new signings this month.

“The other clubs find a way to sign players that can improve and help their team and squads,” Pochettino said.

“Nothing to say but for us it is difficult and will be difficult for different reasons. It is obvious.”

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