Mauricio Pochettino insists he will not take risks with Harry Kane’s fitness as Tottenham eye another top-four assault in the Premier League.
Kane scooped the Golden Boot at Russia 2018, scoring six times as England reached the semi-finals of the World Cup, but those exertions appeared to take their toll on the 25-year-old striker.
Laboured displays in the quarter-final win over Sweden and semi-final loss to Croatia were followed by a goalless outing in Spurs’ 2-1 win at Newcastle United last weekend – Kane completing 90 minutes only five days after returning to training with his club.
The Three Lions skipper also made an ahead-of-schedule return from ankle ligament damage in April, his third such setback in the past two campaigns, but Pochettino maintains his star forward will be protected from undue strain.
“I respect all opinions but we can’t explain how we manage players inside [the club],” Pochettino told reporters ahead of Saturday’s London derby against Fulham at Wembley.
“The people outside don’t know how Harry Kane was after playing 90 minutes last week. They don’t know if Harry was off on Sunday or Monday, or training or relaxing or one session or in the gym.
“Be sure that I am not going to take a risk. If we are conscious that we would be taking a risk, be sure he is not going to play. But the 25 to 30 people who are coaches, sport scientists and physios here talk a lot about fitness, health and everything.
“If we are wrong, we are 25 to 30 people wrong. When we take a decision about health it is not a football decision. The responsibility is for Jesus [Perez, assistant manager] who coordinates everything to tell me ‘this player can play and it’s not a risk’.”
Matchday has arrived.
@wembleystadium #COYS pic.twitter.com/OXe9lSRYfZ
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) 18 August 2018
Kane is expected to lead the line once more against the Cottagers, aiming to end the unusual quirk of him never having found the net during 14 August appearances in the Premier League.
Fellow England World Cup hero Kieran Trippier is in contention to return having sat out the win at St James’ Park.