Mauricio Pochettino insists Toby Alderweireld is not being left out of the Tottenham team because of his contract stalemate.
Alderweireld has not played a Premier League game since October after spending months out with a hamstring injury, .
The Belgium defender was left out for the victory over Chelsea last week and is not expected to take part at Stoke on Saturday either, and Pochettino says he does not deserve to be there over his other, in-form centre-backs.
I don`t care about the personal situations with the club, Pochettino said. If they show me they deserve to play, they are going to play. It is not about personal feelings or emotions. It is about providing the team with the best tools to win.
I cannot consider if they have a one-year contract, six months or 10 years. When (Moussa) Sissoko arrived and he was a record signing, if he was not the best, he did not play. When Dele Alli arrived with Sonny (Son Heung-Min) for the £22m we paid Bayer Leverkusen, who played? Dele Alli - the whole season.
My decision is always about football. It is not personal and not because of a contract problem. I don`t care about that. Always my decision is about what is best for the team and the best for the club.
Alderweireld has been an instrumental part of Tottenham`s development under Pochettino in recent seasons and .
But no new contract has materialised and Spurs signed two new centre-halves last summer - Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth - with Sanchez becoming an important part of their current season.
I am so sorry because Toby was an important player for us in the last two seasons, Pochettino said. Then he got the injury and players like Davinson and (Jan) Vertonghen stepped up, and you have got to deserve to play.
If we are happy with the players who are playing, you need to wait. That does not mean he is not going to play again. But now he needs to keep pushing and try to show me he can play better than the others.
The most important thing is no personal problems. It is always about performance, who is the best out there. But in the end, I understand that it is a big business; rumours that try to create confusion.