Mauricio Pochettino admitted Saints’ European dream is virtually over after Tottenham launched a dramatic comeback to beat them 3-2.

Hopes of a top-six finish looked to be alive, as Saints raced into a well-deserved 2-0 lead inside half-an-hour at White Hart Lane.

But Tottenham rallied and ended up winning the game with Gylfi Sigurdsson’s added-time strike.

The result leaves Saints nine points adrift of sixth position, with just seven games left in their season.

Having played more matches than the three sides above them, there is little prospect of them overturning such a gap.

While Pochettino said that a Europa League spot is technically not yet impossible to achieve, he did admit that it is very unlikely.

“Mathematically it’s still possible to get into Europe, but we also have to see if the reality of the team is enough for us to be playing in Europe,” he said.

Pochettino believes the limited size of his squad is something that is beginning to hinder Saints as the campaign reaches its conclusion.

“We don’t have that many players on the bench and that’s making things difficult towards the end of the season, but we’re working to try to remedy that and to take advantage of every single player that we have,” he said.

Saints did welcome back Jack Cork from injury for this match – a far quicker return than initially expected – but they were without the services of others, notably Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama.

They also lost Nathaniel Clyne to a groin injury at White Hart Lane, while Jay Rodriguez, who scored the opening goal of the day, also went off.

“He did very well, but it’s a shame that he had to come off because of a swollen leg,” said Pochettino of his striker, who now has 15 goals this season.