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Sources: Man City close on €80m Saul deal

 By PA Sport

Dele Alli criticism not healthy for player or England team - Paul Lambert

Paul Lambert has warned Dele Alli's critics they are only harming England by heavily scrutinising a player he once tried to sign.

Alli is expected to be part of the Tottenham team that visits Lambert's Potters this weekend after scoring twice in the win over Chelsea.

The 21-year-old went into that game amid much debate over his possible omission from Gareth Southgate's World Cup XI after he played just 22 minutes across the Three Lions' two friendlies last month.

Lambert insists that Alli's naysayers should lay off the youngster if they want to see him thrive for his country.

"It's the old thing of a young kid bursting through and hitting the ground running -- he does great, then he's had a little bit of a blip, which all young kids do, then he comes back again,'' Lambert explained.

"Everybody seems to push the old pressure button to him rather than just letting him flourish.

"It's not healthy for him -- a young kid getting criticised, especially for the national team.

Dele Alli has been hounded by critics of late.

"You want your young, best players to perform. If you're continually going to criticise him, he's human, he's only a baby. It's unfair, especially for the national team.''

Lambert has been a long-time admirer of Alli and attempted to bring him to Aston Villa from MK Dons before he moved to Tottenham in 2015.

"I actually spoke to him on the phone when he was at MK Dons for Aston Villa -- he came across really well,'' the Scot added.

"He obviously chose Tottenham and he kicked right on. I knew Tottenham were in, it was always going to be difficult with Tottenham. He was a nice kid.''

Stoke fans know all about Alli's ability as the midfielder has scored four times in the past four meetings between the two clubs.

Yet his Spurs teammate Harry Kane can boast an even greater haul over that time having netted eight times in a quartet of Tottenham victories - each by a four-goal margin.

"I always think the top players are really humble,'' Lambert added of Kane.

"He seems that way and hasn't let success go to his head. I think the only thing he craves is winning something. That's a big thing for him.

"I think you can do that at Tottenham. They're a bloody good side. He could win the FA Cup this year without a shadow of a doubt.''

Lambert's predecessor Mark Hughes was in charge of Stoke for the trio of 4-0 defeats to Tottenham and the 5-1 thrashing the Potters suffered at Wembley earlier this season.

The current Stoke manager insists he will pay little attention to those previous performances because he feels the team are a different animal under him.

"I never look back on what happened before I've come in,'' Lambert said.

"It's finished and I'll play the way we want to play. We have to do what I think is the right way and perform against what I think is a really good side.''


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