Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino believes it is too soon to talk about midfielder Dele Alli playing for England.
Alli, who left MK Dons in the summer, has been a revelation this season, forcing his way into Pochettino’s starting lineup with a series of sparkling displays.
England boss Roy Hodgson watched the 19-year-old play 90 minutes in Tottenham’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last Sunday and is believed to be considering the midfielder for matches against Estonia and Lithuania next month.
A strong showing against league leaders Manchester City would help his cause, but Pochettino has warned against rushing Alli into the squad alongside some of his clubmates:
“It’s the same situation as last season with Harry Kane …
“Be careful with the younger players, the players who arrive in the Premier League and perform well. It’s not easy.
“But again, like last season, it’s not my decision. It’s Roy Hodgson’s decision if he wants to call up Dele Alli.
“You can see he’s a player that is very mature and shows great quality but always in football it’s step by step and we need to be careful.
“He will mature. He has personality and good character. But it is too much of a rush to talk about bigger steps for him.”
Kane scored 79 seconds into his England debut in March but has managed only two goals in 16 appearances since for Tottenham. He is yet to get off the mark in the Premier League this season.
Despite the drought, Kane has played well in games for Spurs, and Pochettino insists he has no plans to pull the 22-year-old out of the firing line.
“He was on the bench against Qarabag but I think he needs to play to have the opportunity to score,” Pochettino said.
“We need to stop speaking about Harry Kane, we need to let him do his job. The most important thing is I’m very happy with his effort, the way he has been playing.
“Strikers need to score but it is only a matter of time, the goal is coming.”
Ryan Mason remains sidelined with a knee problem while Alex Pritchard, Nabil Bentaleb and Mousa Dembele have ankle injuries and also miss out.
Manchester City will be lifted by the return of inspirational captain Vincent Kompany as they bid to reassert their authority this weekend.
City surrendered their 100 percent record, and conceded for the first time domestically, as they slipped to a surprise loss to West Ham last weekend.
Central defender Kompany missed the game having been forced off with a calf injury during the Champions League loss to Juventus four days previously. The Belgian is now set to return in place of Eliaquim Mangala — alongside whom he had helped keep five successive clean sheets — as the Frenchman misses out with a groin problem.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini said: “It is important for the team that Vincent has just recovered from his injury. He is the captain and he started the season very well, not only as a defender, but he scored three important goals also.”
Kompany’s return, along with that of Samir Nasri after a minor problem, was the welcome fitness news to emerge from Pellegrini’s pre-match press conference. But on the downside, playmaker David Silva remains sidelined with a calf injury and strikers Wilfried Bony and Kelechi Iheanacho have also been ruled out with knocks. Mangala could be out until after next month’s international break, joining the likes of Gael Clichy and Fabian Delph on the longer-term casualty list.
Pablo Zabaleta is at least near to a return, and Pellegrini is hopeful Silva could feature in Tuesday’s Champions League game at Borussia Monchengladbach.
Pellegrini said of the injury list:
“It doesn’t seem very long – it is very long! We have had a lot of injured players with different injuries. There is not just one reason for it.
“That is why I say it is important to have a squad because you are going to win or lose the title by just one or two points. Normally the difference is not more.”
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