Pochettino confirms this first-team player asked to play for Spurs Under-21s

Nabil Bentaleb played for Tottenham Hotspur's Under-21s against Reading, less than 40 hours before Saturday's derby with Arsenal.

Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb asked to play for the club's Under-21s against Reading on Thursday, according to ESPN.

The Algerian, who has missed most of the campaign with an ankle injury, returned to contention in January and appeared in all four of the Lilywhites' FA Cup matches, as well as making minor cameos in the Premier and Europa Leagues.

Bentaleb was on the bench for Sunday's win over Swansea City, but failed to make the squad which lost 1-0 at West Ham on Wednesday. And head coach Mauricio Pochettino explained to ESPN that the decision to demote Bentaleb was down to the 21-year-old himself.

Bentaleb's appearance at Wycombe's Adams Park was his second for the Under-21s this season, having captained Ugo Ehiogu's side to a 1-1 draw against Southampton last month.

The Lille-born starlet was a first-team regular under Pochettino last term, making 35 appearances. And that was increase of 15 on the previous campaign, in which Tim Sherwood handed him his senior debut.

Spurs play Arsenal in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off, with a win taking them six points clear of their north London rivals with nine games remaining.

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