Mauricio Pochettino has backed Tottenham Hotspur to cope with the absence of Harry Kane ahead of a decisive month for their aspirations to make the Premier League top four and qualify for the FA Cup final. The Argentinian boss says that Heung-Min Son and Vincent Janssen already proved they can replace the England international in the 6-0 win over Millwall and expect them to step up in the coming games, starting with the visit of Southampton on Sunday (19 March).
Kane damaged the ankle ligaments of his ankle in the 10th minute of the win over Millwall, with reports suggesting he could be out of action for between four and six weeks.
Christian Eriksen, who replaced Kane in the game, opened the scoring 20 minutes later while a hat-trick from Son Heung-min and two further goals by Dele Alli and substitute Vincent Janssen saw Tottenham win 6-0 to book a date with Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinals on April 22.
"What can we do now? It's only to find solutions because Harry Kane is in a process to be available again and to be fit. We have many players that can cope with that pressure, "Pochettino said in the press conference ahead of the coming game with Southampton. "After seven minutes against Millwall (when Harry got injured) we scored six goals – a hat-trick for Sonny, Vincent... we'll see. We are very confident in our players and our squad and now we don't need to try to find excuses, only play, perform as well, try to score goals and win games and that is our challenge for the squad."
Kane already missed 10 games earlier in the season after suffering a similar injury. Spurs had a positive start without their top scorer, beating Middlesbrough and Manchester City, but went the following three Premier League games (six in all competition) without a victory.
"It's the same period that we had at the beginning of the season. That was difficult because we lost Harry Kane for seven or eight weeks and I remember that one of the best performances was without Harry Kane against Manchester City at home, 2-0," Pochettino pointed out. "For me it's always about the team, it's about collective performance. We have good players, players that sometimes deserve to play but we pick different players and today is a great opportunity for players like Vincent Janssen or Sonny to play more regularly in the starting XI. I think it's a great chance for them."
Janssen arrived to Tottenham in the summer to back-up the England international. However, he has since been under big scrutiny, having scored only five goals - and only one of them from open play, in the game against Millwall. Pochettino admits that his adaptation from to the Premier League has not been easy but suggest that this could be a good opportunity to prove the doubters wrong.
"If you see different players that arrived this season in the Premier League, there's a lot of examples. When you have a main striker like Harry Kane that scores goals and plays well, it's difficult for your second or third striker or offensive player to take his place or have the possibility to play. He is very young, he came from Holland, a different league, the adaptation to the Premier League is always difficult. He is in a process to learn and improve and it's only his first season in England."
Son has already scored 14 goals this season and could be the chosen one to lead the attack against Southampton following his hat-trick against Millwall.
"Yes, too, it's a big opportunity for him. The system that we've used in the last few months, we've not played with two or three strikers but today Harry Kane is not available and he will have the chance to play more," Pochettino said.
You may be interested in:
- Mousa Dembele returns for Tottenham vs Southampton but Kyle Walker and Victor Wanyama are doubtful
- Tottenham to fend off interest in Mauricio Pochettino from Paris Saint-Germain
- Southampton manager Claude Puel reveals Charlie Austin is back in light training
- Mauricio Pochettino backs Tottenham duo Heung-Min Son and Vincent Janssen to cope without Harry Kane