‘I have only respect’ – Mourinho hints at Alli having Tottenham future despite exit links

The midfielder has been left on the sidelines for three straight games, but his attitude has delighted the Spurs boss and he could now be recalled

Jose Mourinho says it is “possible” Dele Alli makes a return to the Tottenham team for their home Europa League play-off tie against Maccabi Haifa, hinting that he does still have a role to play in the long-term at the club.

England playmaker Alli has been left out of the Spurs squad for three consecutive matches and linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Monday’s transfer deadline.

Mourinho has been delighted by the way the 24-year-old has handled recent adversity and did not rule out him being handed a comeback for Thursday’s home match.

“I cannot confirm Dele’s playing but I cannot confirm he’s not playing,” Spurs boss Mourinho said at his pre-match news conference.

“We have still training sessions [on Wednesday], we have still decisions to make

“The only thing I can say is he’s being very, very professional. I have only respect for him.

“He’s being very professional, particularly [on Tuesday] when the team was preparing for the [Chelsea] game and he wasn’t.

“It would be perfectly acceptable to have a lack of motivation, even a lack of professionalism for this training session but it was exactly the opposite.

“He trained very hard. He has my respect and the respect of his team-mates so it’s possible he plays [on Thursday].”

In an optimistic update on injuries, Mourinho suggested forward Son Heung-min had an outside chance of being fit to make a surprise return against Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.

He also revealed Gareth Bale is progressing well in his bid to reach full fitness following his loan arrival from Real Madrid.

Mourinho said: “Sonny of course is not playing [Thursday], is a big doubt for Sunday but I don’t want to say he’s not going to play because maybe he does and then my position is not good.

“Bale cannot play [Thursday] or even on the weekend, that I can confirm. He is working very hard, very committed, very professional, very happy but not yet [ready].

“I believe the two weeks of internationals can be important for his last phase of his recovering and fitness, hopefully to play when we come back for the weekend after the national teams.”

Amid a frantic run of fixtures, Mourinho acknowledged the importance of reaching the Europa League group stage.

The Portuguese added: “These knockout matches are very dangerous, because they are only one leg – very, very dangerous.

“We felt the fear in Bulgaria and we have to make sure we win it [on Thursday]. One match, at home, away goals are not important. Penalties only after 30 minutes extra.

“We have to do everything to try and win it because it is very important for us on a sports level but also an economical level.”

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