Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has been handed a major boost on the eve of his side’s crunch Champions League clash with CSKA Moscow after striker Harry Kane’s ankle injury was declared less serious than first feared.
The 23-year-old hitman had been expected to be sidelined for up to eight weeks after suffering grade two ligament damage during his side’s 1-0 Premier League victory over winless Sunderland earlier this month.
Kane’s absence and the loss of his goals – he netted 25 times last season – was seen as a critical problem for Spurs, although Pochettino has suggested an earlier-than-anticipated return for the prolific frontman may be on the cards.
“Half an hour [before the press conference], we received the information about the scan,” said Pochettino.
“It’s much, much better than we expected. We are happy. It was very positive, the scan, so we’re very, very happy about this news.
“We still cannot give a time of how long it will take for him to recover. But be sure we’re happy because the scan was better than we expect. I am not a doctor, it’s hard to say – one, two, three weeks – but it’s much, much better than we expected.”
As well as Kane, Tottenham will be without left-back Danny Rose, midfield duo Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier, and new signing Moussa Sissoko for their Group E tussle in the Russian capital. Pochettino, however, is not unduly concerned.
“When you play in a tournament like the Champions League it’s very important to have many quality players, to be competitive on all fronts,” added the Argentine.
“We did a good job in the summer transfer window. It means that when we have five key players injured, we can replace them.”
The significance of tonight’s showdown has been heightened by Tottenham’s surprise loss to French side Monaco at Wembley in the opening round of fixtures, a result which has left the north London club marooned at the foot of their group.
“We were disappointed after Monaco,” said Pochettino. “We need to improve. We must win tomorrow [Tuesday].”
CSKA are unbeaten in nine home matches across all competitions dating back to 25 November and began their Champions League campaign by recovering from a two-goal deficit to draw against Bayer Leverkusen in the BayArena.
Managed by Leonid Slutski, who was in charge of the Russia side which drew 1-1 with England at Euro 2016, CSKA are currently second in the Russian Premier League after eight matches, one point behind leaders Spartak Moscow.
It will be the first time an English club has played in Russia since violence erupted amongst fans of the two countries during this summer’s European Championship in France.