Mauricio Pochettino has downplayed concerns racist abuse could scar Tottenham's Europa League clash against Partizan Belgrade, with the head coach insisting the vile taunts aimed at Danny Rose two years ago had no bearing on his or anyone else's absence.
Spurs begin their Group C campaign at Partizan Stadium later today (kick-off 6pm Irish time) - a match for which they will be without Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul, Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli and Rose.
Pochettino decided to rest the quintent for the trip to Serbia, which he insists had nothing to do with the racist abuse Rose was subjected to when England Under-21s played Serbia in October 2012.
Nikola Ninkovic was banned for a year by the Serbian Football Association for his part in the melee and claimed in the immediate aftermath that Rose provoked home supporters with "inappropriate gestures".
Two years on, the winger is set to start for Partizan as Spurs are welcomed to Belgrade tonight - ahead of which Pochettino rejected talk of players being kept out of the firing line.
"The decision was based on football only," Pochettino said. "All my selection decisions are based on football always.
"I think two years ago is a long time. My decision was simply to give him a rest down to him being tired after Sunderland.
"Before that he was with the national team for two weeks. It's always a stress to go with the national team.
"We also have a big squad and it allows other players to play and for me to see another player."
"My decision was simply to give him a rest down to him being tired after Sunderland" - Mauricio Pochettino on Danny Rose
Rose's absence will mean summer signing Ben Davies will instead start at left-back, like he did in both of play-off legs with AEL Limassol.
Michel Vorm, another addition from Swansea, may make his Spurs debut at Partizan Stadium, as could Federico Fazio after winning the Europa League with Sevilla last season.
Roberto Soldado is in line to start after returning from injury, while Milos Veljkovic will also be hoping to play some minutes against his countrymen.
The 18-year-old defender represented Serbia Under-21s last week and has played a part in Spurs' preparation for the match in Belgrade.
"We used his information to our benefit," Pochettino said with a smile.
"Milos is a young and very good player and maybe he will have the chance to play tomorrow.
"It is normal that he has information about Belgrade from his team-mates in the national team, he knows about the club and history. We use it - not too much - but we use it."