A hat-trick, a man-of-the-match performance and even a brief cameo in goal, yet Harry Kane still finds himself on the periphery of the Tottenham Hotspur squad. At this rate, it seems that saving his boss’s life is the only way the youngster will manage to break into the first team of the club he has been with since childhood.
Thursday’s Europa League tie against Asteras Tripoli provided Kane with a rare opportunity to start in the white of Tottenham, and the 21 year-old certainly made the most of it. The first of his three goals – the pick of the bunch – was a superbly taken strike from 25 yards which nestled with pinpoint accuracy into the bottom corner, while the two goals which completed his first career hat-trick were evidence of Kane’s impressive sense of positioning in the box.
Even the amusing novelty of disguising himself as a goalkeeper after Hugo Lloris’s sending off – and subsequently conceding a howler by letting a weak free-kick slip through his hands – did not overshadow his goalscoring exploits, and Kane could have been forgiven for thinking that his outstanding display of carpe diem would see his appearances at White Hart Lane become less sporadic.
And yet the England under-21 international found himself relegated to the bench for Sunday’s Premier League fixture with Newcastle United, and his substitute appearance with 20 minutes of the match remaining could not prevent Mauricio Pochettino’s side from losing their fourth game of the season.
Kane’s exclusion from Pochettino’s preferred undectet was bemusing not only when we consider the fact that the youngster was riding a wave of confidence after Thursday night, but also in light of Tottenham’s more long-term problem of having a paucity of effective strikers.
Spurs’ two senior centre forwards come in the form of Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado. The former, while capable of being very good on his day, is infuriatingly inconsistent and at 30 years of age is past his best, whereas the latter has been hopelessly inept since his £26 million move from Valencia last season.
Although the argument has been made that Harry Kane is not an out-and-out striker and that Christian Eriksen is keeping him from playing in his preferred number 10 role, he is more of an advanced forward than the Dane, and carries more of a goalscoring threat.
Kane has so far unsurprisingly seen his chances of making a meaningful contribution in the first team limited to the secondary competitions of the League Cup and the Europa League, and yet he has a record of seven goals in six appearances. What’s more, his first taster of a prolonged period in the Spurs side came during Tim Sherwood’s short-lived tenure last season, where he managed to score in three successive games.
There are ways for Pochettino to fit Eriksen and Kane into his side, and the talent of the Englishman means that the either/or approach is both illogical and detrimental to the team. Spurs are clearly lacking in attacking threat, yet deploying Kane as a deep-lying forward with one of Adebayor or Soldado as his more conventional striking partner – as well as Eriksen as the creative outlet from midfield – represents a possible answer to their woes.
Harry Kane is a highly talented footballer, and it would be a great shame if his potential went to waste at his boyhood club. With each passing game he is knocking ever harder on the door, and there will come a point when Pochettino cannot ignore him any longer. Give him a chance, and the Spurs boss might never look back.