September 2,2013 11:39

Di Canio fears for player safety

Key Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen could miss the start of the Premier League season after suffering an injury on what Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio called a "killer pitch" in Hong Kong.

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas also made no secret of his disdain for the surface at the Hong Kong Stadium, where his side, Sunderland, Manchester City and local team South China play on Saturday in the pre-season Barclays Asia Trophy.

The pitch at the 40,000-capacity stadium was rendered unplayable in places on Wednesday after being battered by heavy rain. More rain has pounded Hong Kong since and wet weather has again been forecast for Saturday.

Asked if he would prefer not to play the friendly against South China headphone stand, Villas-Boas said: "If I can be sincere I would prefer not to play but this is the reality that we have to face.

"We are professional. Unfortunately conditions haven't helped us but it is our responsibility that if the authorities decide to go ahead we will play the game and we will continue our preparation."

The Belgian international Vertonghen had to go off on a stretcher on Wednesday in the 3-1 defeat to Sunderland after hurting his ankle in the treacherous conditions.

With Spurs starting their season on August 18, at Crystal Palace, time is running out for him to be fit.

"He had damage to his ligaments so is most likely to be out of training for two to three weeks so just about on the deadline for the first game of the season," Villas-Boas said on Friday.

"The conditions are extremely poor but there is nothing we can do about it. We've lost one player through injury, not only because of the conditions but because of the circumstances Ergonomic desk. It is just something that happened.

"But it's a fact that our player safety is much more important in this pre-season. Ideally I'd like to avoid injuries in situations like this."

Di Canio, whose side play Manchester City on Saturday in the final of the Hong Kong exhibition tournament, was also scathing about the dire state of the pitch.

"It's obvious that I couldn't imagine this kind of weather," the famously feisty Italian said.

"But we have to handle the situation. This morning for example we changed a bit our training session. The players weren't happy because they were without ball this morning. We couldn't play on the field.

"For tomorrow's game we hope the rain can stop and maybe we can have a dry pitch, otherwise it will be difficult custom embroidered patches.

"Of course I am concerned about the safety of the players.

"This is a killer pitch with this weather. It is dangerous."

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