Mauricio Pochettino sure Tottenham can cope with busy schedule
LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino is confident his Tottenham team can continue to compete on three fronts, despite losing Andros Townsend and Jan Vertonghen this week.
Townsend joined Newcastle on a five-and-a-half-year deal on Thursday, while Vertonghen is expected to miss around two months after injuring his knee in the 3-1 win at Crystal Palace.
Should Spurs beat Colchester in Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round clash, they will face 10 matches in 35 days, starting with the trip to Norwich on Tuesday and next weekend's match against Watford. Their Europa League campaign resumes on Feb. 18 when they face Fiorentina in the round of 32.
Pochettino, however, is confident his squad can cope with the approaching schedule.
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"It's always a test for our squad, it's true," the Spurs boss told a news conference. "We have a very busy period ahead but we came from a very busy period too. It was a big test for the squad but we're not worried. We are very calm about the squad that we have.
"From the beginning of the season, we have shown that we can compete and I believe we have enough quality to compete for different competitions. We lost Andros, and Jan for a time. For that, we have 23, 24 players. The players that can play in their positions will perform as well."
Pochettino said Vertonghen's injury was a chance for centre-back Kevin Wimmer "to show his real quality" and added that he would promote 18-year-old defender Cameron Carter-Vickers to the first team, rather than buying extra cover for the Belgium international.
"We have a lot of players in defensive positions that can play. We have another youngster from the academy -- Cameron Carter-Vickers," Pochettino added.
"He is still young but he has enough quality and he is training with us from the beginning of the season and playing for the under-21s. It's a good opportunity to stay with us now more consistently. I think we have enough players to cover his [Vertonghen's] injury."
Pochettino, who has dismissed speculation linking him with Chelsea, made eight changes for the 2-0 FA Cup third-round replay win at Leicester City and is again expected to rotate his squad for the visit to Colchester.
"For me, always when I pick the 11 players I believe it's the strongest team," Pochettino said. "It's true that tomorrow we need to share the minutes as we have a lot of matches ahead."
Despite the possibility of fixture congestion, Pochettino insisted the FA Cup is "not a distraction" and said he is looking forward to Saturday's visit to League One's bottom club.
"I think the FA Cup is an exciting competition to play in and I am excited to play at Colchester tomorrow, on a different pitch, in a different stadium, at a different level," he said. "You can see the reality of football and the smell -- everything is different.
"They are strong and the games they have played in League One are not a reference. It's true they are not in a very good place but you know the FA Cup is different -- it's one game and to play in their stadium is always difficult."
As well as Vertonghen, Pochettino will also be without Ryan Mason, Clinton Njie and Alex Pritchard on Saturday.
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.