How Harry Kane’s Absence Will Test Tottenham

Yesterday we found out that Harry Kane, Tottenham’s star striker, will be out of training until at least March with ligament damage to his ankle. Depending on how he progresses, he could be missing from games until even early April.

It’s a huge blow for Tottenham. Their fans will be in full panic mode, but for the rest of Premier League viewers, Tottenham without Kane will be very interesting to watch.

Kane has been the focal point of Tottenham’s offense and for good reason. Being tall and strong, he can receive long passes and win aerial battles against defensemen. He’s also really good with his feet, a bit of a rarity among taller players, and quick enough to run in behind a lot of defenders.

Tottenham will also be hindered by Son Heung-min’s absence as the attacker will be with South Korea’s team at the Asian Cup. At most, Son will miss five games. Kane will miss at least 10 games. That’s two of Tottenham’s best three players gone for a sizeable amount of time.

What will Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino do? He’s missing two of his best attacking options. His club are in the middle of pushing to get into the top two of the Premier League while also trying to advance in the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup.

Does he opt for the large, lumbering forward Fernando Llorente in an attempt to do his best Harry Kane impression? Or does he opt for a lineup without a player trying to do what Kane does, with players like Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli switching positions and confusing opposing defenses?

Tottenham still have enough attacking options to see this period through. If they have one thing going for them, it’s that most of the games Son will miss are against teams sitting lower in the Premier League.

Until Son returns, Pochettino would be wise to test both options. Tottenham’s next game comes against Fulham, currently sitting in 19th place out of 20 in the Premier League and struggling in defense. Opting for Llorente would provide a more familiar option, while a small-ball lineup with Lamela, Eriksen and Alli could shred through Fulham’s defense.

The most interesting challenge ahead of Tottenham is home and away in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund. The German team knocked Tottenham out of the Europa League last year, 5-1, on aggregate. The challenge facing Tottenham a massive one in the most prestigious club competition in Europe.

There might be two players in the Premier League — Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Manchester City’s Fernandinho — that their respective teams rely on as much as Tottenham relies on Kane. For the neutral observer, it’s as interesting a conundrum to watch unfold as can be. For Tottenham fans, it’s time to pray, pray, pray.

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