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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Harry Kane injury could be a blessing in disguise for Tottenham

Spurs and England striker expected to have scan on Tuesday on the ankle injury that saw him limp off in win against Bournemouth

Harry Kane is set to have a scan on his ankle which will determine the severity of the injury he sustained at Bournemouth on Sunday. Ian Walton / Reuters
Harry Kane is set to have a scan on his ankle which will determine the severity of the injury he sustained at Bournemouth on Sunday. Ian Walton / Reuters

As far as timing goes, Harry Kane picking up an injury during Tottenham Hotspur's win over Bournemouth at the weekend might not be the worst, all things considered. While Tottenham and England wait with bated breath for updates on the ankle injury that forced the striker to limp off in the first half of Sunday's 4-1 win and leave the Vitality Stadium on crutches, a pragmatic assessment is that if there is ever a good time for a 35-goal striker to be injured, this could be it.

Admittedly, Spurs face an important FA Cup quarter-final at Swansea City next weekend, while England manager Gareth Southgate will on Thursday name his squad for the forthcoming friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy, with the World Cup just three months away. Whatever the diagnosis of Kane's injury, he is unlikely to be called up for national duty, while Spurs do not play again until April 1, when they host Chelsea in the Premier League, meaning Kane could be afforded almost three weeks' rest to heal.

It is conceivable Kane would have been rested for the Swansea game anyway, with Mauricio Pochettino preferring Spain striker Fernando Llorente for domestic cup matches. With Spurs exiting the Uefa Champions League at the hands of Juventus last week, a top-four finish is now a priority for the North London club to ensure they have European football to look forward to when they return to White Hart Lane next season.

For England, Kane is the front-line striker going into Russia, where he could captain the side - "as good as anybody I've played with or worked with" - was Southgate's assessment following October's World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, when Kane's penalty sealed an underwhelming win in Vilnius. His absence for the games against Holland and Italy will allow Southgate to assess his other forward options, with Manchester United's Marcus Rashford in pole position to stake a claim for a starting berth alongside Kane.

Kane can also take comfort knowing he has suffered this type of injury before, and come back even more prolific.

Kane suffered ligament damage to the same ankle twice last season. He was sidelined for seven weeks and missed 10 Spurs games due to the initial injury, picked up against Sunderland in September 2016. However, he then returned to action within a month of sustaining a similar problem in an FA Cup tie with Millwall last March.

Kane finished with 35 goals in each of those campaigns, the same mark he sits on now with two months of the season remaining.

A scan was delayed 24 hours on Monday to allow the swelling to his right ankle to subside. A best-case scenario for both Kane and Spurs will be no surgery and a few weeks' rest before the Chelsea game. Five points separate the two London clubs heading into the international break. A victory at Wembley on April 1 would all but guarantee Spurs' participation in next season's Champions League while inflicting a potentially fatal blow on their opponents' chances of joining them.

Whether Kane will play any part will boil down to the extent of the latest injury to an ankle that has already seen him miss almost three months of his career so far.

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