Mauricio Pochettino insists he has no issue with Danny Rose despite him leaving the defender out of Tottenham’s squad for the north London derby.
Rose was not even named on the bench for the 2-0 defeat on Saturday, with boss Pochettino explaining the full-back still needs to regain fitness after nine months out through injury.
But, since making his comeback off the bench against Real Madrid last month, Rose had been in the squad for all five of Tottenham’s previous matches, twice starting and three as a substitute.
He also then started for England against Germany over the international break before coming on late against Brazil.
Rose has said all is forgotten following his comments in August suggesting he could leave Spurs and Pochettino was adamant this latest absence was for fitness reasons only.
“I think you are trying to find some issue that is not an issue,” Pochettino said.
“We analysed the player and we said to the player that we believed it was better to play another player, and [Rose] needs to wait. Like different players that are out, like (Georges-Kevin) NKoudou who was out of the squad today.
“It’s not the same if you are training and trying to get fit. One thing is you can play and another thing is to be fully fit to play and to cope with 90 minutes.
“For us, rather than being on the bench today, it was the decision to make him train at the training ground, like (Erik) Lamela was playing with the under-23s, to try to get fit.
“It’s not another reason. It’s only that he needs to build, and then wait for his opportunity. We believe that he can play.”
Pochettino has been clear that Tottenham should shoot for glory in both the Champions League and Premier League this season.
However, defeat to Arsenal leaves them 11 points adrift of Manchester City and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris believes Spurs must first ensure they finish in the top four.
“Before we think about City it is important to stay in the top four,” Lloris said.
“This is the main target for the team because we hear from outside about playing for the title, blah blah blah. I think the most important thing is to stay consistent in the league.
“We have been the last three years in the top four. We need to carry on to settle the club in this position and try to get more experience – this team is still young – and reduce the gap with the best and obviously the future for Tottenham will be great.”
Spurs will now look to bounce back against Borussia Dortmund in Germany on Tuesday, when victory will guarantee they go through as group winners to the Champions League last 16.
“I don’t think we have to go there with the spirit that we have qualified,” Lloris said. “For us we want to bounce back. It won’t taste good to lose two games in a row.”