Harry Kane’s injury piles more pressure on Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino at a defining time for the club

With Spurs unlikely to spend money on another striker in January, Pochettino faces another monumental challenge at a critical point in the season

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Wednesday 16 January 2019 08:08 GMT
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As bad as the Harry Kane news is for Tottenham Hotspur and their striker, those close to him say he is determined to make it back for the League Cup final – if the club get there.

That, however, is pretty much what this ankle injury does: it greatly increases the many ‘ifs’ around the team right now, at what feels a knife-edge period, going into the back stretch of a season with so much resting on it.

How quickly things can change. It was less than a month ago that Spurs were on such a charge and in such supreme scoring form, with giddy anticipation of a possible title challenge as they embarked on what seemed their usual late-season surge under Mauricio Pochettino.

They have since lost two big matches in relatively quick succession, and more importantly lost so many key players to injury – with Kane the seventh right now – as well as Son Heung-Min to Asian Cup duty.

One realistic hope is that things also change as quickly as they usually do for Kane injuries. His supreme physical condition does tend to ensure he comes back from such problems earlier than expected. Kane was meant to be out for eight games with a similar injury to his other ankle last season, but ended up returning in half that time.

If that doesn’t happen now, though, it will increase questions on the way the team is being run in an administrative sense. That way is based on perceived financial prudence from chairman Daniel Levy, but it has felt like it runs an increasing risk this season.

It most immediately risks a Champions League place, and their progress in this season’s competition as they face an electric Borussia Dortmund.

A Spurs squad which has been pushed physically and stretched to the limit already needed reinforcements, and now has real gaps in midfield, and up front.

This is already during a period where Pochettino himself pointedly spoke of the “need to operate differently” and spend money in order to win these competitions, so to risk falling backwards as a result of lack of investment would also maybe risk the manager’s future, given the strong interest from the super-wealthy Manchester United.

It might just cause him to consider things differently. It should certainly cause the club to consider this window differently. They were unlikely to do business, but it now feels like they need a midfielder and definitely a striker, if even on a short-term deal.

Harry Kane holds his leg in pain as players congratulate David de Gea
Harry Kane holds his leg in pain as players congratulate David de Gea (AFP/Getty Images)

It’s just that available cash and options are as limited as their squad right now.

Talk of a temporary deal for Milan’s Gonzalo Higuain is utterly fanciful when you consider his wages and the fact Chelsea are interested.

It is also put into perspective by the reported hesitation to do a deal for Hull City’s Jarrod Bowen, which could be completed quickly – especially if there are funds from a Mousa Dembele sale – and who is someone club scouts have for a long time looked at.

That wouldn’t quite represent the quick fix that Pochettino himself usually dislikes.

For the manager’s part, and for all the gloom, many at Tottenham just see this as the latest obstacle in what has been a hugely testing season – but one that has seen Pochettino manage them all superbly.

This shouldn’t be overlooked.

Given the stadium problems, given the lack of signings, given the injuries, Spurs logically shouldn’t be in third right now and so close to two teams at the top on record-breaking form.

Many rightly have confidence that Pochettino can handle this in the same way as he has handled everything else, and he has more than enough confidence in himself.

The likeliest temporary solution is that Lucas Moura slots into the forward position while Kane and Son are out, with Fernando Llorente offering that different option.

It’s just that it feels like they could make this so much easier for themselves with a financial outlay that potentially saves money in the long run, that proves a genuine investment in the long term. The situation is after all a lot to put on Pochettino, and a lot to put on Kane’s powers of recovery, because there’s an awful lot riding on this.

It might not just be about the two months Kane hopes to cut short, but go much further.

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