Champions League

Spurs adamant Vertonghen not concussed

Jan Vertonghen (Getty Images)
Jan Vertonghen (Getty Images)

London - Tottenham Hotspur insisted Thursday defender Jan Vertonghen did not suffer a concussion during their Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat by Ajax earlier this week.

Vertonghen suffered a sickening clash of heads with team-mate Toby Alderweireld and, after briefly trying to return to action, retched on the side of the pitch. The 32-year-old Belgian defender then helped down the tunnel as he struggled to walk unaided.

Spurs came in for fierce criticism in letting Vertonghen try to come back on in an eventual 1-0 loss at home to Dutch giants Ajax, with many pundits saying it proved football's concussion protocols were out of date.

But the club insisted Vertonghen had passed all the relevant tests and a club statement issued Thursday said that, following further consultation with an independent specialist, concussion had been ruled out.

The specialist, however, did advise Vertonghen to take a few days' rest, meaning he is unlikely to face Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday.

"Following a thorough review over the past 48 hours by our medical staff as well as by an independent neurologist with special interest in sport-related concussion today, it has been concluded that Jan Vertonghen did not suffer a concussion during Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg against Ajax," the statement said.

"The Belgium defender suffered an injury to his nose due to a challenge during the game which resulted in heavy bleeding. He was deemed fit to continue playing after an on-field assessment. All Football Association concussion guidelines were followed."

The statement added: "Jan was immediately withdrawn as a result of the player informing medical staff that symptoms were developing suddenly and that he no longer felt stable standing up.

"We have been advised that this was the result of a presyncopal episode, a near faint.

"The specialist has recommended that the player undertakes a brief period of rehabilitation before returning to training."

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, speaking before the statement was issued, said he would accept changes in the concussion protocols if that meant improving the welfare of players.

"Always in that situation I am open, more than open, to improve the decisions," Pochettino said. "I think the most important thing was going to be the health of the player.

"It is not important, the game, the semi-final of the Champions League, the score, the priority is the player. I don't know if we need to change the rules, if we need another doctor."

Brain injury charity Headway called for football's authorities to introduce "temporary concussion substitutions" to allow medical staff to make proper assessments of injured players.

Tottenham's participation in next season's Champions League will be guaranteed if they beat Bournemouth in their penultimate Premier League game of the season.

Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United have all dropped points in recent weeks and all four remain in contention to finish in the top four behind Manchester City and Liverpool.

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