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Jose Mourinho defends Spurs midfielders for departing early during win over Antwerp

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho insisted he has no issue with Harry Winks and Dele Alli for deciding to return to the dressing room during the second half of Tottenham Hotspur’s Europa League win over Royal Antwerp.

Spurs finished top of Group J with their 2-0 victory on Thursday night and Jose Mourinho admitted a sense of relief at avoiding defeat to the Belgian side this time around.

After the game, Mourinho commented on the fact that midfielder Harry Winks walked straight down the tunnel after coming off for Tanguy Ndombele shortly before the hour mark.

Mourinho insisted that Winks had his blessing to head straight for the dressing room to warm up as it was a cold evening in North London.

“I told [Winks] to go,” Mourinho told BT Sport. “I told every player that left the pitch to go, when the weather is cold, I prefer the players to go to the dressing room and have a shower and be warm and safe.

“I told them all to go, some preferred to stay, even being cold, and still participate in the game from the bench. Winks decided to go, I’m happy with that because I’m the one who told him to do it.”


An opening goal from Vinicius allowed Mourinho to ring the changes and the Spurs boss ended up using all five substitutions allowed.

Substitute Harry Kane set up Giovani Lo Celso to secure the win for Spurs and after all five changes were made, Dele Alli made the decision to return to the warmth of the dressing room in a move that didn’t bother Mourinho.

Mourinho explained: “Let’s not run away from the reality, a player on the bench who realises with five changes he is not one of them, of course he is not a happy player and I wouldn’t expect him to be.

“But every player who is on the bench, or leaves the pitch in cold weather with me, they can go to the dressing room and I even prefer if that happened.”

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