Kane is keener than a kid to keep playing and scoring – but sometimes he must give it a rest to help Spurs and England

Kane is keener than a kid to keep playing and scoring – but sometimes he must give it a rest to help Spurs and England


ONE World Cup Golden Boot, two Premier League Golden Boots and 197 goals for club and country by the age of 25.

Captain of England, Member of the British Empire and ­possibly the finest specialist centre-forward on the planet.

Harry Kane gave it his all against Chelsea but did not look fully match sharp so soon after his return
Harry Kane gave it his all in the 2-0 Premier League defeat at Chelsea but did not look fully match sharp so soon after his return

So who could blame Mauricio Pochettino for rushing Harry Kane straight back into Tottenham’s starting line-up after his ankle injury?

When Kane declares himself fit, it is a bold manager who’d hold him back and start him on the bench.

The restless Kane can be a difficult player to manage. Not because he is bolshy or stroppy but because he is almost TOO motivated, almost TOO good a professional.

His desire to play football and his appetite for goals is child-like.

Harry Kane was involved in a heated exchange with Cesar Azpilicueta, perhaps due to frustration as he battles to regain top fitness levels
Harry Kane was involved in a heated exchange with Cesar Azpilicueta, perhaps due to frustration as he battles to regain top fitness levels
Getty – Contributor
Mauricio Pochettino might need to consider resting Harry Kane already - especially as results, and Son Heung-min, have been fine without the England striker
Mauricio Pochettino may need to consider resting Harry Kane already, especially as results, and Son Heung-min, have been fine without the England striker
Getty – Contributor

He’s still basically the kid who’ll boot a ball against a wall all day.

Most professional footballers want to play in every match, but some team-mates describe Kane’s enthusiasm levels as ‘manic’.

The current dilemma for Pochettino is that Tottenham had been doing damned well without Kane.

After winning four straight Premier League matches and stuffing Borussia Dortmund in his absence, Spurs have suffered back-to-back defeats since his return.

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Son Heung-min thrived during Kane’s lay-off, either as a false nine or when playing off Fernando Llorente, an old- fashioned targetman.

Kane is not merely one of those traditional No 9s. He wants to do it all — a No 9 and a foraging No 10 all in one.

When at the top of his game that is fine and dandy, but Son had been enjoying his recent freedom to such an extent he has been propelled into Footballer of the Year contention.

Now, with Kane back, form horse Son has been marginalised.

Kane scored on his comeback in the 2-1 defeat at Burnley and also forced an excellent save from Tom Heaton.

Son Heung-min has emerged as a player of the year contender after being given the freedom to roam while Harry Kane was out injured
Tottenham’s Son Heung-min has emerged as a player of the year contender after being given the freedom to roam while Harry Kane was out injured
Getty – Contributor

But at Chelsea on Wednesday, Kane was clearly lacking sharpness and his frustration twice boiled over during tangles with agitator-in-chief David Luiz.

After the first of those flashpoints, Kane pushed his head towards Cesar Azpilicueta in an action that might have earned him a ban.

It was uncharacteristic and fuelled the belief around Spurs that, not for the first time, Kane had returned from injury too quickly.

After escaping the ban threat because ref Andre Mariner saw the incident and dealt with it, Kane is free to play in a North London derby which has renewed significance.

Mauricio Pochettino, who has just been named the London Football Awards manager of the year, faces tricky decisions over how to use main frontman Harry Kane to avoid burnout
Mauricio Pochettino, newly named as London Football Awards manager of the year, faces tricky decisions over how to avoid Harry Kane burnout
Reuters

Kane has netted six times in seven meetings with Arsenal, so again Poch would surely be mad to even think about leaving him out?

Yet this time, with Arsenal suddenly breathing down their necks in the race for Champions League places, and having sploshed Spurs 4-2 at the Emirates in December, Pochettino might just be thinking the previously unthinkable.

Tottenham’s record is better without Kane this season and his absences have not caused huge problems in earlier campaigns either.

Harry Kane was caught up in some out-of-character skirmishes with Chelsea players
Harry Kane was caught up in out-of-character skirmishes with Chelsea players
Getty – Contributor

So it may be beneficial for Pochettino — or whoever succeeds the Argentine if Real Madrid are finally able to land their man — to begin to manage Kane’s workload.

England boss Gareth Southgate has also struggled with this problem, too.

During a remarkably harmonious World Cup campaign in Russia one of the few contentious issues was whether Kane should play or be rested in the final group match against Belgium, with both teams already through to the KO stages.

Tottenham will want Harry Kane to do his tussling in the box as he battles for goals - not with opposition players as in his jaded performance at Chelsea
Tottenham will want Harry Kane to do his tussling in the box as he battles for goals – not with opposition players as in his jaded performance at Chelsea
Getty – Contributor

Kane stated his case firmly that he wanted to start — not least because of the race for the Golden Boot, which he was leading with five goals against Tunisia and Panama.

Southgate always wanted to rest his skipper but at one stage was inclined to buckle to Kane’s demands before eventually benching him.

The England staff had been worried that he was approaching burn-out levels and Kane seemed to benefit from the rest when he ran himself into the ground for two hours against Colombia before England’s penalty shoot-out victory.

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Kane looked out on his feet during the quarter-final against Sweden and the semi-final defeat by Croatia and yet, with the Golden Boot still not certain, he insisted on playing in the third-place play-off defeat to Belgium.

Of course, greed is good for a goalscorer. But Kane was back in action four weeks after the World Cup campaign ended, at Newcastle.

Again, his overwhelming desire to play seemed to defy common sense.

Kane has made his displeasure known inside Spurs when left out for domestic Cup matches — especially when he knows there are ‘easy’ goals to be had.


And so Pochettino has often relented and allowed him to start in more of these ties than most first-choice players.

This has led to Kane becoming a high-mileage 25-year-old — he is already approaching 400 competitive matches for clubs and country.

That enthusiasm is admirable and few supporters of Tottenham or England will ever want to see him rested.

But some time soon Kane might need to give it a rest, now and then, for his own good as well as his team’s.

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