At his press conference to preview Sunday’s meeting with Brighton, Mauricio Pochettino provided an injury update on Christopher Nkunku and Romeo Lavia.

The head coach answered the media’s questions at Cobham after a freezing morning training session in which Nkunku had joined in with the start of team training, but Lavia was absent.

With 48 hours still to go until the Seagulls’ visit, Pochettino couldn’t provide absolute confirmation about theirs and others’ availability, with a decision to be made on Saturday.

‘I don’t believe we can recover some players that we maybe thought was possible,’ said Pochettino.

‘There is still one training session more and we will see what is going on tomorrow and see if some players can be available.

‘We need to assess Lavia and Nkunku tomorrow and then decide. They are close but we need tomorrow to take the decision. Maybe Lavia is the more difficult.’

The Brighton game offers Pochettino and his players a chance to respond to the disappointment of Saturday’s loss at Newcastle. The head coach said after the game it was our poorest performance of the season, and on second viewing he admitted today it was even worse than he thought at the time.

What he has seen from the players since has pleased him, however. He explained why.

‘It has been a tough week for everyone, but I am happy because they have reacted really well. I was tougher with them inside than outside. We also have to blame ourselves because maybe our approach was wrong, and we have to take responsibility too.

‘It was good to have the week to realise things we need to improve, to be more consistent, to be more mature, realise things we can’t afford in this process. I am very happy so far, even though it was really tough in training and meetings. Sometimes, this type of situation helps a lot.'

One player who definitely won’t be able to play on Sunday is Reece James. The skipper is suspended after his red card at St James’, and Pochettino was asked how he has reacted to that setback, for which he apologised on social media.

‘I think he was a little bit tired in the moment he got the second yellow card. Many times he was injured and now, step by step, he is building his fitness.

‘He knows he is still far away from his best condition, to complete 90 minutes. He is working really hard and he feels sorry about the situation; it was tough for him and the team.

‘It’s good when the player is self-critical and feels responsible,' added Pochettino.

'He is doing well. It’s a thing that can happen that can be good because you learn for the future.’