Nuno Santo has been dealt a massive blow ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s clash with Pacos de Ferreira in the UEFA Europa Conference League this evening…
Harry Kane, who has been linked with an exit throughout the summer, was left out of Spurs’ squad to face his potential suitors, Manchester City, on Sunday afternoon but he returned training with his teammates earlier this week.
The 28-year-old striker was named in Nuno’s 25-man squad for tonight’s encounter but it’s understood that he has not travelled to Portugal for the first of this two-legged tie.
According to the PA news agency (via the Independent), the England international has remained in London and will continue to work on his fitness ahead of potential involvement in Sunday’s match against Nuno’s former club, Wolves.
Meanwhile, speaking ahead of kick-off, the 47-year-old head coach told reporters (via the Guardian):
“What we must be sure of is that when we decide to put a player on the pitch, we have to consider all of the aspects. The fitness, the mental aspects. We are here to support all of the players equally.
“Harry, of course, has all of our support. His fitness is getting better each day. He worked today, he is going to work tomorrow and he is going to join the group on Friday. On Saturday we will make the decision on who is going to be involved in the next [league] game.”
To not have Kane involved later tonight should come as a huge setback to the Portuguese and the rest of the Spurs squad. Whilst Pacos are no great shakes, in comparison to a Premier League side, they will still pose a threat in a competition that the north Londoners could realistically win.
Spurs have been without silverware since 2008, so they should probably take this competition seriously, even if it’s a chance to rotate the starting XI. Nuno has plenty of strength in depth in all departments right now.
Their chances of success, however, are dented in the absence of their leading talisman, who contributed to 54.4% of all of Spurs’ goals scored in the Premier League last term, whilst he’s hit at least 19 goals in each of his last seven campaigns.
He’s a crucial, crucial part of this Lilywhites squad.
Furthermore, it would’ve been a fantastic chance for Kane to get some minutes on the pitch as he steps up his training preparations. Whether he stays or goes before August 31st remains to be seen, but Spurs must continue on as if he’s sticking around and a game like this could’ve got him up to speed a lot quicker than a few fitness sessions at Hotspur Way.
In his absence on Sunday, they defeated the reigning champions but only by a solitary goal. In 90 minutes, they only registered three shots on target – fewer attempts than City – as per SofaScore.
Kane has averaged 3.6 shots per game throughout the course of his career, so he’d certainly help Nuno in that aspect too. Heung-min Son isn’t likely to start tonight, meaning Dane Scarlett, 17, is expected to start his first-ever game for the senior side. A huge gamble.
To make matters worse, Nuno is also without the services of young centre-back Joe Rodon, who too could’ve done with some minutes on the pitch.
Nuno should be worried heading into this encounter, failure to see off Pacos de Ferreira would be a disaster so early on in his Spurs managerial career.