Mourinho still has faith in Ndombele

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Europa League - Second Qualifying Round - Lokomotiv Plovdiv v Tottenham Hotspur - Stadion Lokomotiv, Plovdiv, Bulgaria - September 17, 2020 Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho reacts REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

(Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho says he questioned Tanguy Ndombele’s professionalism last season but still has faith in the France midfielder, who scored a late winner against Lokomotiv Plovdiv in Thursday’s Europa League match.

Ndombele arrived for a club record 54 million pounds ($69.91 million) last year but struggled to make an impact, with injuries limiting him to 17 starts and Mourinho singling him out for criticism before the COVID-19 shutdown.

However, the 23-year-old had shown he was now focused and applying himself, Mourinho said.

“Last season he was stuck in a situation where I couldn’t see evolution,” Mourinho told reporters. “In this moment he’s training very, very well.

“In this moment, I believe in Tanguy. I never doubted his quality. Never. I doubted in some moments his motivation and commitment and professional attitude. In this moment I think that Tanguy can do well for us.”

Spurs, who lost their Premier League opener 1-0 to Everton, travel to Southampton on Sunday.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford