World Cup break cannot come quick enough for Tottenham as Harry Kane and co fail to find the fight

Harry Kane made a surprise start at the City Ground  (Getty Images)
Harry Kane made a surprise start at the City Ground (Getty Images)

Harry Kane might just be English football’s most diligent current servant. But even the England captain and Tottenham poster boy could not find the fight for Spurs’ Carabao Cup assignment at Nottingham Forest.

Of course he couldn’t. Spurs’ talisman goal machine should never have been on the field at the City Ground in truth.

Forest cantered to a 2-0 win that could so easily have been a heftier defeat for Antonio Conte’s men.

Kane was quite clearly hampered by thoughts of the World Cup, with England’s squad being named on Thursday and Gareth Southgate’s squad jetting out to Qatar next week.

Okay, Spurs still host Leeds in the Premier League on Saturday before the World Cup commitments take hold. And yes, Kane will clearly play in that north London clash too.

Oh, and doubtless Conte’s hand was forced by injury to Son Heung-min and lack of fitness for Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski.

But Kane had eyes and ideas elsewhere, and for once could be seen stopping himself from chasing lost causes and racing to close down opponents.

Instead the England skipper played entirely within himself – and no one can blame him for that.

The World Cup is the absolute opportunity for his crowning glory. Ben Chilwell, Reece James and more have already fallen by the injury wayside at the worst possible time.

Kane will rightly do what he can to avoid following suit. And Gareth Southgate will have wiped away a cold sweat when the Spurs skipper jogged off midway through the second-half without injury or incident.

One more game Gareth, and Harry, one more game.

Conte should still have found an alternative for the night, even if that meant playing someone out of position.

Kane’s selection was not the only slightly odd call either, with Djed Spence again denied a start.

Matt Doherty got the nod at right-back, and it was his glaring error that gifted Forest the space for their opening goal.

Doherty will not want to watch the replays as he stepped out, failed to claim a loose ball and allowed Renan Lodi to sweep in and fire home from 18 yards.

Spence will not want to see the replay again either, because he will rightly believe he can offer more than that.

Djed Spence made a creditable cameo against his former side (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
Djed Spence made a creditable cameo against his former side (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

The former Forest loanee did come off the bench, and for a creditable cameo.

But if any lingering hopes remained that he could build a career at Spurs under Conte, then him not starting at the City Ground surely extinguished that shred of positivity.

Instead, he could easily be looking at an exit strategy in January, given his abilities and, no doubt, options.

Spurs seemingly needed no strategy when it came to exiting the League Cup beyond shoddy defending and lacklustre attacking. That World Cup break cannot come soon enough.