Toby Alderweireld revealed his recent injury lay-off was one of the toughest periods of his career.
The Belgium defender sustained serious hamstring damage in Tottenham’s 3-1 win over Real Madrid on November 1, and was absent for more than three months, finally making his return as Spurs beat Newport 2-0 in an FA Cup fourth-round replay.
Alderweireld is now in contention for Saturday’s derby against Arsenal but he has been in constant fear of a relapse.
He said: “It's difficult. It was a proper hamstring injury and the risk of re-tearing it was very big. That is why we took our time and worked very hard so my muscles are ready to play a lot of games again.
“It was a difficult period for me – although in a football career, three months is not that long. I'm 28 and I'm lucky I've never had a serious knee injury or anything, which would be a lot worse. Three months is difficult but we worked very hard to get to this point.
“It could have been even longer but because we worked hard, were very clever, doing the right things, I'm back playing now. We did the right things -- don't start too early, train a lot of weeks so the muscle is ready to compete.”
Pochettino must decide whether to keep Alderweireld in the starting XI or save him for the Champions League tie against Juventus in Turin on Tuesday.