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'He's fast... he's very fast!' - Mourinho explains decision to start youngster Tanganga against Liverpool

21:04 EAT 11/01/2020
Japhet Tanganga
The 20-year-old was a surprising starter for Saturday's match against the Premier League leaders, but the coach says he has the speed they need

Tottenham coach Jose Mourinho says he picked Japhet Tanganga in the starting XI to face Liverpool on Saturday because the 20-year-old is "very fast".

The centre-back makes his Premier League debut as he lines up alongside Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez in the Spurs defence against the unbeaten Premier League leaders.

Making just his second senior appearance for the club, the England Under 20 international and Spurs academy graduate is charged with keeping the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino quiet as his side look to upset the Champions League and Club World Cup winners.

Mourinho opted to start Tanganga instead of experienced defender Jan Vertonghen because the manager believes the youngster fulfils his side's need for speed against a devastating attack such as Liverpool's.

"That's Tottenham. He's a good kid, working hard for years with a good pre-season from what we watched and analysed," he told Sky Sports. "[He has been] working hard to have a chance and this is Tottenham, it's a great chance for him. 

"He's fast, he's very fast. We think we need fast people when you play against Salah, Mane and people who are fantastic attacking spaces behind. 

"We need speed, so maybe we use inexperienced [players], of course we have more experienced players than him, but he's fast."

Tanganga has been with the club since the age of 10 and made several appearances in pre-season.

He made his first-team debut in the Carabao Cup in September, playing the first hour of the third-round clash with Colchester, which Spurs lost in a penalty shootout.

He has been tipped to become a regular part of the senior side should 30-year-old Alderweireld depart when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Tanganga’s contract will expire at the end of the campaign, too, but Mourinho said this month that he expects him to sign an extension in the coming months.

“I think the club is always interested in these young players,” he told reporters, adding: “Going on loan, not going, staying, the club is always worried about them, so I presume that Tanganga will be a player to sign a new contract yes.”