Antonio Conte admits Harry Kane’s form is ‘very strange’ amid longest Tottenham slump

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·3-min read
Antonio Conte admits Harry Kane’s form is ‘very strange’ amid longest Tottenham slump
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  • Harry Kane
    Harry Kane
    English association football player
  • Antonio Conte
    Antonio Conte
    Italian association football player and manager

Antonio Conte says Harry Kane is one of the best players he has ever coached but admitted the striker’s form this season is “very strange”.

Ahead of Spurs’ scheduled return to action against Liverpool on Sunday, Kane has scored just once in the Premier League this season – his worst barren stretch for the club.

Kane’s form is in stark contrast to Liverpool’s Mo Salah, who scored his 23rd goal of the season in their 3-1 win over Newcastle on Thursday.

Conte has no doubt about Kane’s enduring quality and says the England captain is an asset to the team even when he is not scoring.

“Harry is a world-class striker. Every day that I train him I understand very well that he’s a world-class striker,” Conte said.

“He’s one of the best I’ve had the pleasure to train. He’s amazing. I like to have him in my team. For sure Jurgen [Klopp, Liverpool boss] likes to have Mo Salah. But I like to have Harry in my team. He’s an important player for us and my expectation was very high and to play an important game against Liverpool.

“It’s very strange, no? It’s very strange,” Conte added of Kane’s form.

“If you compare what he did in the past, this is very strange. But also in the past, in my experience, before as a player and then as a coach, it happens. I played with important strikers who, for a long period, didn’t score.

“But my judgement about them didn’t change. I wanted to have them in my team also if they don’t score. Because if you have Harry Kane in your team, you feel stronger, for sure.”

Liverpool were without Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones due to suspected positive Covid tests at Anfield on Thursday but Sunday’s game is expected to go ahead barring a flurry of positives at either club.

Spurs’ last three matches have been cancelled due to coronavirus outbreaks and Sunday’s game will be the first in two weeks, since a 3-0 win over Norwich on December 5.

Conte revealed he expects to have a full squad available by the start of next week but said his preparations for the match had been severely hampered.

“In this moment we have only two players that are positive,” Conte said on Friday. “But in one day, two days, they should be negative.

“Now the situation is good for us because we had 50 per cent of the squad with Covid, and the staff totally. Now we are going out of this situation. I repeat: we have to pay great attention and to continue to have a good behaviour, to be safe and also to make safe our families and all the people who stay with us.

“In these two weeks, for three days we didn’t have a training session and then we had a training session with only 10, 12 players, also because with the under-23 players there was Covid.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“Now for two, three days I have a squad without two, three players. Now we are having full training sessions but for sure, it wasn’t easy to face this situation and to train the players.

“To have 12 players is very difficult. To try something under a tactical aspect, usually if you want to try to play a formation you need 20 players and it’s not simple to do this. You have to train with mannequins and I stopped. It’s not easy. It’s not the same thing.”

Conte said Spurs’ rate of vaccination, believed to be over 85 percent of the squad, is high but insisted he would not treat unvaccinated players any differently.

“To treat someone in a different way is not good in general,” he said. “I think we have a high number of players and staff vaccinated, yes.”

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