London (AFP) – Tottenham defender Danny Rose has played down fresh talk of a rift with manager Mauricio Pochettino, calling for an end to “silly” rumours after he was substituted against Apoel Nicosia.
The England player was taken off in the 70th minute at Wembley on Wednesday after a tussle with Roland Sallai left him needing stitches around the top of his left eye.
After returning from nine months out with injury in October, Rose is desperate to regain fitness and he reacted to his withdrawal by disappearing straight down the tunnel but re-emerged soon after to take his place on the bench.
Rose, linked with a move to Manchester United, was fined by Tottenham in the close-season and forced to apologise for an interview in which he criticised the club’s wage structure and hinted he wanted to leave.
Last month he admitted he was “fuming” at being left out of the squad for Tottenham’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal but the defender said there was nothing in this latest incident and is fed up with talk of a rift.
“This is getting silly now,” he said. “The manager said it was best I came off and I didn’t want to come off. That was it.
“I’ve seen already that people are saying we exchanged words. There is no issue between me and the manager. There has never been an issue. And people trying to put stuff in the media is not welcomed.
“For the last three-and-a-half years, four years, the manager has been my biggest fan. He’s given me nothing but love and respect.”
Pochettino himself played down any problems after the match, admitting Rose was unhappy at coming off but saying he had needed treatment.
Rose said Spurs were confident they could beat any team in the Champions League after they topped Group H, finishing in front of European champions Real Madrid.
“I wouldn’t like Bayern,” he said. “But we don’t fear anybody. The manager would prefer us to have one of the top teams. He relishes those sorts of games.
“We’ve proved this season that we do turn up in these games in the group stage and we’ll be looking forward to the draw.”
Spurs will be one of five English teams in the hat as Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea also made it through to the knockout rounds.
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