Jose Mourinho has hinted that Dele Alli could be involved in Tottenham’s clash with Aston Villa in the Premier League on Wednesday after the midfielder’s leading role in the FA Cup win over eighth-tier Marine on Sunday.
Alli was at the heart of Spurs’ best moves in the first half as the visitors raced into a four-goal lead, with Alfie Devine coming off the bench to become the club’s youngest ever player – and scorer – to round off a 5-0 win.
The 24-year-old has fallen down the pecking order at Spurs since Mourinho’s arrival and has not started a league game since the 1-0 defeat to Everton on the opening day of the season.
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His lack of appearances have led him to be heavily linked with a sensational January move to Paris Saint-Germain, now coached by his former manager Mauricio Pochettino.
However, Mourinho’s post-match comments suggest he could yet have a role this season for Spurs beyond the cup competitions.
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"I am really happy with his attitude in the game,” said Mourinho.
“Of course we didn't want to risk much, the pitch is a bit dangerous and their enthusiasm can put the creative ones in some risk.
“But I am happy - good professionalism, good dynamic from him and Gedson (Fernandes) to start trying to create, so really pleased for the performance.”
Dele Alli celebrates with goalscorer Carlos Vinicius during Marine v Tottenham
Image credit: Getty Images
Spurs’ relentless fixture schedule continues with away trips to Aston Villa and Sheffield United in the Premier League next week.
And asked whether Alli could be involved against Villa, Mourinho said: "He was here today and of course it was not the match to measure the quality, but the professionalism and attitude and I am very happy with it, I will not be surprised if next Wednesday Dele is playing with us."
Should Mourinho give Alli another chance?
Dele Alli built his reputation on arriving into the box late, running beyond Harry Kane and scoring the occasional spectacular goal. He was brilliant because he was so hard to track, popping up in different positions at the right time, capable of controlling the ball on the run and getting a shot away quickly. He’s a shadow of that player now. His game has become ponderous – fancy flicks replacing bursts beyond the striker.
It’s not only his fault. He would often feed off Christian Eriksen’s delivery, so it’s little surprise that the Dane’s one-man protest at Spurs, and then his departure, led to Alli’s output drying up. Although he was hyped up by Mourinho at the start, revealing that Sir Alex Ferguson had offered him one piece of advice before he took over at Manchester United - "sign Dele Alli", he is not the industrious player that Mourinho wants at the front of his midfield three. Alli is creative, tries things. Mourinho is disciplined, desires order. It was unlikely to work.
But Alli’s attitude survives. It takes humility to accept your role as a squad player when you were once the golden boy, especially when it involves turning out against eighth-tier opposition. While his on-pitch performance on Sunday will provide few answers to Mourinho given the standard, his temperament suggests that he remains a player keen to make it work. Given how many games Spurs have coming up, and Alli's willingness, they might be wiser to keep him around than letting him leave for the French capital.
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