Cape Town - Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino warned the fringe players in the squad that they will have to work hard to get into the first team.
Pochettino was speaking after watching his side open their Premier League campaign with a 3-1 win over Aston Villa when they needed two late goals from Harry Kane to wrap up the win.
It was the introduction of Christian Eriksen, who has been pushing for a move all summer, that proved the catalyst for Spurs’ comeback after Pochettino opted to leave him on the bench ahead of a possible exit before the European transfer window shuts.
Stalwart Jan Vertonghen was left out of the matchday squad completely, which was a surprise given both Pochettino and the defender confirmed that he was not injured.
"I want to play the players who deserve to play, who I think to deserve to play and who are playing well," Pochettino said.
"My decision today was to play Toby (Alderweireld). If the players didn’t play today, they need to work hard to get their opportunity.
"With all the players fit you struggle to find a starting 11. We have more than 25 players and everyone needs to understand we have plenty of good
players in every position. We can only play with 11."
One player who is guaranteed a place when fully fit is Harry Kane, and Pochettino paid tribute to his star striker after the game.
The England captain rushed back from another ankle injury at the back end of last season in time for the Champions League final and the Nations League semi-finals but enjoyed a rare summer off, getting married and spending a month in the Bahamas.
"To score the two goals, he is very sharp," Pochettino said. "It is normal. We are talking a lot because he scored twice. I hope this season, please, that he starts to score and doesn’t stop until the end.
"We talk very highly about him. I think he’s been on a nice holiday as you saw everything on Instagram. He’s had a wedding and he’s a happy man.
"When you’re professional like he is, the pre-season is not to get fit but to try to improve.
"The mentality is to enjoy your holidays and then prepare, arrive fit and improve in the four, five or six weeks we have.
"If not, you’re going to pay the problems with injuries or different things can happen. That for me is one of the keys of Harry Kane to be in the shape that he is today."