Spurs striker Harry Kane is fit to face Arsenal in the north London derby
PUBLISHED: 13:50 04 November 2016 | UPDATED: 14:01 04 November 2016
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Harry Kane is fit to play for Tottenham in Sunday's north London derby against Arsenal at the Emirates - and manager Mauricio Pochettino insists he is not taking a risk and rushing the striker back into action.
Kane, who won the Premier League Golden Boot last season, has missed the last 10 games after suffering ankle ligament damage soon after his winning goal against Sunderland at White Hart Lane on September 18.
Although Spurs initially won their next four games – including an impressive 2-0 home win over Manchester City – they have since slumped.
The Lilywhites have failed to win any their last six matches – drawing four times and losing twice - and their only two goals in that spell have come from the penalty spot.
Kane’s return against Arsenal is therefore a timely boost for Tottenham, especially as he has scored four times in his last three derbies in the league.
“Today I can confirm he will be available to be selected for Sunday, and then I need to decide whether he is included in the starting XI or starts on the bench,” said Pochettino. “We are very happy after yesterday, he had a very good training session. He’s fit.
“In the last few seasons he was very important for us. He was the top scorer in the Premier League last season and it’s always important that he’s fit, and that would be important for any club. Of course it’s very good news for us and it’s good he will be back.
“It’s not a risk. You need to understand that, after two and a half years here, we try to avoid a risk. If he’s on the pitch or on the bench it’s because we’re sure it’s not a risk for him to play - and then you cannot avoid all the risk because it’s a contact sport and you cannot avoid 100 per cent the risk. But if the doctor says he’s available to be selected it’s because there’s no risk about his old injury.”
While Kane is set to return to action, Spurs will still be without their influential centre-back Toby Alderweireld as well as Erik Lamela, who picked up a hip injury in training on Tuesday, and Ben Davies. Mousa Dembele is a doubt after twisting his ankle during the first half of Wednesday’s defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.
“Toby has struggled a little bit to recover but it’s sure he will be available after the international break,” said Pochettino. “He’s not included in the squad now. He’s very close but it was a very slow recovery, it was a very painful thing that happened.
“Erik is out for Sunday. I can say only that Mousa is a doubt and we need to assess him tomorrow and then decide. It’s not a big deal but it’s painful in his ankle.”
Unlike Tottenham, Arsenal go into the derby in red-hot form, having won 10 of their last 11 games and scored seven times in the last week – but that arguably puts the pressure on the Gunners, and Spurs fans will be hoping the occasion inspires their players to recover their best form and unleash their frustrations on Arsene Wenger’s side.
“You never know if it’s a good or bad time to play - I will tell you after the game,” said Pochettino. “In football anything can happen.
“It’s true we are not in a positive situation. In the six games after Man City we have struggled to win games – it’s four draws and two defeats - and we are very conscious of that, that we need to work hard and try more than before because now we are in a difficult moment.
“But in football you always need to be ready to change that dynamic and we have a very good opportunity on Sunday, going to the Emirates and trying to win the game.
“It will be an exciting game for all - for us and for them too. It’s a game we can imagine but maybe it will be different in reality.
“It will be tough for both teams. For them it’s a big challenge to beat us and for us it’s a very good challenge to win at the Emirates. This is my, or our, third season going there and we’ve had two draws. Maybe it’s a good moment to try to win the game.
“It’s true we are maybe not so confident as after Manchester City. Football is about emotion and when you win, win, win, you are at the top of your emotional and mental level.
“But now it’s a good test for us to try to change the dynamic. We’re in a difficult moment but, to be honest, I like to have that kind of moment to learn and improve and it doesn’t scare me.”
Sunday’s derby will provide the latest barometer of where the balance of power lies in north London, but Pochettino is uninterested in such issues.
“After 20 years in charge, I think Arsene Wenger is doing a great job and it’s one of the most consistent clubs in the world,” he said. “It’s very difficult to compare with a club like that. To be fair we cannot compare with Arsenal.
“We want to be one of the great clubs in the world but we are still building the training ground, our new stadium and we are building our squad and that’s very important.
“But it’s true that when you compete you put all those things away and we need to be aggressive and try to play better than them and try to win the game on Sunday because football is on the pitch.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs