Tottenham Hotspur suffered a huge blow this week when it was revealed that Harry Kane could miss up to two months with injury.
An ankle injury will keep the England and Spurs striker out for at least a month, with no return likely until as late as March.
It’s the worst possible timing for Tottenham who also lost eight-goal striker Son to international duty this week. Son is headed to the Asia Cup to link up with South Korea, and he too could miss the rest of the month with the final of the competition on February 1st.
So, how will Tottenham cope without Harry Kane? And can they still hope to win silverware without their star striker?
Who will be stepping in?
Tottenham must find a replacement, and the tricky aspect of this for Mauricio Pochettino is that Son, who would usually move into centre, is also away until the end of the month.
In terms of a striker similar to Kane, Tottenham are a little stuck. They do have options to move people around, to play a smaller, false 9-type in that role.
However, the most likely decision is to cancel the plans to offload Fernando Llorente. The Spaniard had offers from Turkey, and former club Athletic Club were also keen on offering him a return this month.
Previously, Tottenham were happy to allow him to leave given his restricted paying time, but that’s likely to change now as Llorente is asked to step into that number nine position.
Llorente won’t replace the 14 goals of Harry Kane, he’s not that type of striker, but what he will do is offer Pochettino excellent positional discipline.
He’s a player who has mastered his role over a very good career, and he’s someone who can step in and do a good job without Tottenham having to change their system. That’s why he was signed as the number two striker, after all.
Tottenham must prove they are made of more
It’s injuries like these that test the resolve of a team. Can Tottenham step up and deliver in the absence of one of their best players? Can they still come up with the goals needed to compete in the way they want to this season?
It’s going to be a tough ask because of just how much Harry Kane is relied upon. He’s scored 14 league goals this season and that’s tough for any team to go without.
However, this is a team made of sterner stuff, or at least we think. They have a strong squad across the board with creative players like Christian Eriksen, Lucas Moura and Dele Alli. This squad has plenty of talent, it’s just a question of whether those players can step up to another level to bridge the gap, to cover for the absence of their star striker.
If you want to be one of the best teams in the league, you simply cannot fold just because you’ve lost one player. That tells people you’re a one-man team. That if you can mark Kane out of the game, it’s almost job done.
Now, Tottenham don’t seem like one of those teams. This season, they’ve got the job done even when Kane hasn’t shone, for the most part.
But this time he’s categorically out, he can play no part. Now we will see what this Tottenham side are really made of.
Can Spurs still win silverware?
The Premier League is well out of reach for Tottenham. Realistically, the best they can hope for is a third-place finish, and even that might be a task with a more experienced Chelsea side now breathing down their necks.
In terms of silverware, they are still in the Carabao Cup, FA Cup and Champions League. So which competitions can they win?
The Champions League is a little unrealistic. This isn’t a club nor a squad ready to win a competition like that, particularly not without their star striker. You need things to go your way in the Champions League, to have a little luck with injury so that you’re at your very best throughout the competition.
Even at their best, Tottenham probably haven’t got enough to win that, let alone without starman Harry Kane.
The FA Cup is wide open, anyone’s game. Tottenham head to Crystal Palace in the next round, and that’s no gimme. Though, Spurs are favourites.
It’s certainly too early to say Tottenham are going to win the FA Cup, but they have a good chance, being one of the top teams in the competition. They should be looking to go as far as they can, at least.
The Carabao Cup is their most likely avenue to silverware this season, especially given they are already in the semi-final and 1-0 up against Chelsea.
If they can see off their London rivals in the second leg. They will head into a final with Manchester City in their now adopted home Wembley.
That will be a huge task in itself, but in a one-off final, you just never know. Again, Tottenham would have to prove themselves without their star striker, or they just might end up trophy-less again this season.