Tottenham holds breath over Harry Kane injury after FA Cup rout

Monday March 13th, 2017

The last time Harry Kane injured his ankle, back in September, he missed seven weeks of action and five league games. In those matches, Spurs dropped points in draws with West Brom (1-1), Bournemouth (0-0) and Leicester (1-1). Kane limped off seven minutes into Spurs’s 6-0 FA Cup win over Millwall Sunday, and he could face another long layoff as the season reaches its climax. Tottenham is in the FA Cup semifinal and is tied for second in the Premier League, though the 10-point gap Chelsea has with 11 games remaining seems unbridgeable.

The Kane injury throws up two questions, the first of which is how coach Mauricio Pochettino plans to replace him. Against Millwall, he played Son Heung-Min as a false nine with Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli just behind him. All three scored, with Son bagging a hat trick. Back in September, he started off playing summer signing Vincent Janssen as Kane’s direct replacement; the Dutchman had great movement and aggression but his final touch in the box deserted him. As the season continued, Janssen slipped down the pecking order. He was recently left out of the 18-man squad for a Europa League match against Gent and stayed on the bench in Spurs’s FA Cup fifth-round win over Fulham.

“He needs to show more in training,” Pochettino said at the time. Janssen got 15 minutes against Millwall and scored a late goal, his first from open play all season. He looked sharp and confident, and he came close to a second with a header that was saved.

“I told you that in the last few months he has stepped up and started to work better, and I was happy in the way he was performing in training,” Pochettino said.

Janssen may get more opportunities in the coming weeks, though Son may well get the nod first.

Planet Futbol
Watch: Son Heung-min hat trick steers Tottenham into FA Cup semifinals

The other question is why Kane does not get more credit. He still seems to be underrated. Despite missing those matches in the fall, he tied for the scoring lead in the Premier League with Romelu Lukaku, who has played in every game. Kane had scored three hat tricks in his last nine games; after the last of them, against Stoke, the Daily Telegraph declared him "Three-Season Wonder." He is capable of making goals out of nothing, as he did against Everton earlier in the month.

Perhaps it’s because he’s English; he lacks the charisma of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the social media presence of Paul Pogba. Kane is barely mentioned as a contender for Premier League Player of the Year. Maybe that’s the way Pochettino, as understated as they come, prefers it.

Kane is among the best in the business, but no one wants to admit it.

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