MELBOURNE, Australia - Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed that Nabil Bentaleb, Alex Pritchard and Federico Fazio are not part of his plans for the future, but has handed a surprise lifeline to Clinton Njie.
On Saturday, a club source told ESPN FC that the quartet have been asked to find new clubs after being left out of Spurs' 24-man squad for the preseason trip to Melbourne, where they face Juventus and Atletico Madrid.
Pochettino confirmed that Bentaleb, Pritchard and Fazio have no future at the club on Monday, but insisted that Njie's absence is down to injury, despite reports claiming the 22-year-old Cameroonian is on the verge of a move to Marseille.
"Njie is injured -- he picked up a small injury a few days after the start of preseason and he is in London and was not available to come," Pochettino told a news conference.
"The situation of the other three players -- Bentaleb, Fazio and Pritchard -- is very clear. They are not in my plans and they know. I have communicated with them and it was made very clear. It's not a problem. They know the situation and we'll see what happens."
The quartet were left out of the travelling party, which includes ten players aged 17-20 without a first team appearance between them, despite Pochettino's decision to also leave ten of Spurs' 11 Euro 2016 players in London.
And the manager has apologised to Spurs' Australian fans, who were hoping to see the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris, and said the decision to split the squad was "very difficult."
"I am sorry to our supporters," he said. "It would be great for all players to be involved in the tour in Australia. We saw last year, when we visited Sydney, it was amazing to see our supporters in Australia. I think they understand that it's very difficult -- they arrived a few days before we came here. It was a very difficult decision for me.
"But it's important that they build their fitness after last season, a very stressful season, and a difficult Euros. We always say the same -- they are not machines, they need to rest, they need to recover after only maybe 15 or 20 days of holiday. It's very important to be fit for the whole season.
"We have ahead a very important season with the Champions League, the Premier League, the FA Cup and League Cup, and we need to be ready to compete. You can appreciate and we can feel now it was a better decision. We feel very sorry for our supporters, but sometimes we need to take strong decisions for the future of the team."
Meanwhile, Erik Lamela has insisted he is happy at Tottenham and dismissed speculation linking him with a return to Italy.
"There's always been talk that I was going to go to another team, but in my head I've always wanted to stay at this club," said the Argentina international.