Nuno Espirito Santo said Tottenham are working to get the best out of Dele Alli after he was left out of the 1-0 Carabao Cup win at Burnley.
In a throwback to Alli’s struggles under Jose Mourinho last season, the 25-year-old did not even travel to Turf Moor for the game that was won by Lucas Moura’s second-half header.
With teams being allowed to name nine substitutes and make five changes, for Alli to not even make the bench seems a big statement by Nuno.
Harry Winks was another player left out and Nuno said: “Not just Dele, it was Harry also, they are our players, we continue to focus on getting the best out of each of our players.
“Dele is one of the cases we have to try and improve.”
Asked whether the pair could be involved in Saturday’s visit of Manchester United in the Premier League, Nuno added: “We are going to travel.
“We have a training session tomorrow and we will assess all the players like we always do. They are our players so anything is possible, this is my answer.”
This was an important win for Spurs and Nuno, who has been under pressure after an indifferent start to his spell in charge and faced criticism for his playing style.
It was another toothless display at Turf Moor, barring a 10-minute period in the second half where Moura headed home the winner amid a quick flurry of chances.
They defended capably throughout as they booked a spot in the last eight.
Nuno added: “It was a good performance. I think we played good, in control of the game, possession. We knew the task ahead of us with the way Burnley play.
“It’s very tough as they are very good. Defensively we were spot on and we really did a good job of controlling how they play.
“I think better in the second half. Second half good possession but (we did) not finish the actions, better in the second half in terms of mobility and dynamic.
“The end of match about defending, sticking together and defending. It’s good for the team. We know that games require suffering and unity. We must congratulate the players today because they did a good job.”
Burnley had just one shot on goal and rarely looked like getting anything out of the game as they search for a winning formula.
They have won just one game this season, against Rochdale in the last round of this competition, but boss Sean Dyche feels they are close.
He said: “Lots of good things are happening, there are some good signs. The attitude is correct, the belief in what we are trying to do is correct, we just need that moment.
“I thought there were some really good performances. It is hard to fault them at the minute. We changed formation at Southampton, we changed players tonight, so we are looking at options to find that win, but there are a lot of things they are doing well, so we have to keep belief in that.
“I have got to keep believing in the players. We are working hard to get that win. There are a lot of good things about tonight, the energy, the commitment, the desire to try and score a goal to get at least a draw.
“We have a competitive group and I believe we will turn the corner. We are not far away but we cannot rely on not being far away, we have to go and make it happen.”