Spurs star Harry Kane set to return to training - but Mousa Dembele’s now recovering from a foot injury
Tottenham striker Harry Kane could start training outside next week as he continues to recover from his ankle injury – but Mousa Dembele is still a doubt for Saturday’s trip to West Brom after suffering a recurrence of an old foot injury.
Both players have missed Spurs’ last four games after suffering injuries against Sunderland on September 18.
Kane damaged his ankle ligaments and was expected to face a lengthy spell on the sidelines, but he is making quick progress and is on schedule to return sooner than was originally anticipated.
On the other hand, Dembele was expected to make a rapid return – the initial prognosis was that he had merely suffered from cramp against Sunderland.
However, the issue turned out to be a hamstring problem, and the Belgian has since had a setback in training.
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Speaking at today’s press conference, Pochettino said: “Harry Kane is still out, he’s doing very well but he’s not ready yet.
“We don’t know yet when he will play again. All we can say that he is doing well and we hope that next week he can start training on the grass, on the pitch - still not with the group. We’re happy with the way he’s recovering.
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“Then we need to assess Mousa Dembele. We have another day tomorrow to see if he can be available. I cannot say the chances, it only depends how he feels tomorrow.
“He got a minor problem in his hamstring against Sunderland. Then he was good but he got a knock in his foot in training, and that’s an old problem. It’s minor but it’s painful for him, and when he touches the ball it’s painful for him.”
Pochettino he has “a few issues from the international break” and that another set of players will be assessed today and tomorrow, but he declined to expand on that and divulge more information about how his squad is shaping up.
Tottenham head to West Brom in strong form, lying in second place in the Premier League table, having taken 17 points from their first seven games.
It is a big improvement on last season’s start, when the Lilywhites failed to win any of their opening four top-flight fixtures and were five points worse off at this same stage.
“You always need to learn from the past and your experiences,” said Pochettino. “Football’s always new and different but it’s true that it’s important to be consistent and regular during the whole season to arrive at the end to achieve big things.
“I think last season our start was a little bit difficult and then we finished in the way that we finished. But I think we are more mature now and we’re more focused in trying to compete in every game, to take every game like a final, and [knowing] every point is very important. I think that’s something we’ve improved a lot from last season.”
Spurs can back up their manager’s words when they travel to The Hawthorns on Saturday.
Their last outing was a hugely impressive 2-0 home win over Manchester City, when the eyes of the world were fixed on the top-of-the-table clash at White Hart Lane, and this weekend’s visit to The Hawthorns will be rather less glamorous by comparison. However, the Lilywhites have only won one of their last six games against Albion – and Pochettino has urged his players to be at their very best again.
“We only got three points from Manchester City,” he said. “It was a good game and we played well and it was exciting, but now we must be clever and we need to understand it will be a very tough game against West Bromwich – and maybe more difficult than Manchester City.
“If we are not focused and don’t play with the same intensity and passion I think we will suffer a lot against a team that is very physical and strong. In the Premier League you can never play at 70 or 80 per cent of your capacity, you always need to play at 100 per cent.”
Spurs are set to face one of their former players, Nacer Chadli, who joined the Baggies in a club record £13million deal in the summer.
“It was all clear with him,” said Pochettino. “He asked me before the end of last season if he had the facility to go and play more for another team.
“I said to him ‘you are in my plans but if you want to leave and it’s the right club and the right price then ok, it’s not a problem’. In the end he chose to go to West Bromwich. Both clubs arrived at a deal and that was all that happened.”
Meanwhile, Pochettino has played down the squabble that took place when Spurs won their penalty against Man City, as Heung-Min Son and Erik Lamela argued over who should take the spot-kick and Lamela then missed.
“It’s not a big issue for us,” said the manager. “There’s an unbelievable relationship between Erik and Sonny, and then it’s a normal situation where more players want to take the penalty and shoot. I prefer that than all players saying they don’t want to shoot.
“It’s not a big issue and in the next game they decide again. If you have more confidence to shoot then shoot, and for me it’s not a problem if we miss the penalty like Lamela.”
Finally, Pochettino has told Tottenham’s fans not to expect any more contract renewals for now.
“There’s no news,” he said. “You know I’m very honest. How many times have I said ‘next week’? Now it’s all calm, all quiet.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs