Jose Mourinho has been slammed for "digging out" Dele Alli by Jamie O'Hara, who has accused the Tottenham boss of killing the struggling midfielder's confidence.
Alli has found regular playing time hard to come by in the first half of the 2020-21 campaign.
The 24-year-old has only featured in four Premier League matches for Spurs, with his further seven outings coming in cup competitions.
He was handed a rare start as Jose Mourinho's side took in a Carabao Cup quarter-final tie with Stoke City on Wednesday, but ended up being hauled off just after the hour mark.
Tottenham were 1-0 up thanks to a Gareth Bale header until Alli lost possession as they surged forward in the 53rd minute, allowing the Potters to turn over possession and score via a Jordan Thompson strike at the back post.
Mourinho replaced the England international with Erik Lamela a short while later, and the playmaker was visibly frustrated as he made his way to the stands.
Spurs went on to win the game 3-1 thanks to late goals from Ben Davies and Harry Kane, but their controversy-prone manager singled Alli out for criticism in his post-match interview.
"For me, a player who plays in that position is a player that has to link and create and not create problems for his own team,” Mourinho told reporters.
O'Hara has now expressed his sympathy towards Alli, who has been linked with a move away from Tottenham amid reported interest from Paris Saint-Germain, with it his belief that the player is being unfairly treated during the most testing period of his career to date.
“I think Mourinho’s doing a great job but I don’t like the way he’s treating Dele Alli," the former Spurs midfielder told talkSPORT.
“What do you expect from the boy? You’re not playing him, he’s not been involved, he’s hardly getting on the bench never mind starting.
“Alright he made a mistake and they score but I don’t think he was really poor in the game; he works hard.
“I just think when you’re coming out and digging a player out in the press, he’s a young player, I think he needs to help him.
“What’s he gaining coming out in the press and digging out that single performance? It’s just killing his confidence more.
“He’s an investment for this club, he’s an asset to the club. Whether he’s in your plans or not you don’t want to kill his confidence much so that you totally lose him.
“He did alright, he made things happen. In that number 10 role you have to link up and make things happen but I don’t think that’s Dele Alli’s game. He’s a player who makes that run beyond and scores goals off the back of people.”