Should Tottenham Hotspur Rest Harry Kane?

It is a little unfair to be asking whether Tottenham Hotspur should rest Harry Kane. After all, they own the player’s contract and he is their man. They should be in a position to manage him to the best advantage of the team. Unfortunately, international commitments often deprive a league club of that luxury.

Should Tottenham Hotspur Rest Harry Kane?

In Mauricio Pochettino’s press conference before this weekend’s game against Crystal Palace he said the following regarding players returning from international tournaments:

“They arrive at different times because they finish in different times. It is a very hard thing to do and it is very tough to manage them during the season too..”

Pochettino is clearly concerned at the amount of game time players have and the lack of rest available to them in order to recover and re-establish their fitness levels. There are concerns over Harry Kane in particular.

Kane’s Breakthrough at Tottenham

Harry Kane established himself in Tottenham’s first team in season 2013-14. He made 19 total league and cup appearances scoring four times. However it was 2014/15 when Kane become firmly established in the Spurs first team squad. Coming off the bench on the opening day of the season and sliding an injury time pass into the path of Eric Dier to score a winner at Upton Park against West Ham.


Kane never looked back after that. He made 51 league and cup appearances that season and scored 31 goals. Still only 21 by the season close, Kane was eligible to play for England U21 side in the UEFA U21 Tournament in the Czech Republic. Much was made in the press as to whether he ought to attend, but Kane was never going to let his country down. Following an arduous first full season in the Premier League he would play football continuously for 11 months. Pre-season in the USA had started on 19th July 2014 when Kane played for Spurs against Seattle Sounders. He finished that season at the UEFA U21 Tournament on 24th June 2015. It should be noted that England did not even make it out of the group stage.


On the 29th July 2015 Kane was scoring for Spurs in another pre-season friendly against an MLS All Star team in Colorado. Commercial commitments of his club further exacerbating the problem. When the Premier League proper started that season, Kane did not score his first Premier League goal until 29th September 2015 after a 748 minute goal drought. These were probably the first possible signs that Kane had needed time to adapt and regain his fitness after a hard summer.

Tottenham were also partly to blame. Having missed the opportunity to sign an additional striker to support Kane in the preceding transfer window, they had created a rod for their own back. Whilst publicly claiming that they were content with new arrivals Heung Ming Son and Clinton N’Jie as having the ability to play a striking role, this was not ideal for the club, or indeed for Kane.

Despite this Kane had another productive season. He played 50 league and cup matches and scored 28 more goals for Spurs as they tried to chase down Leicester City for the Premier League title. It was enough to win Kane the Golden Boot. He missed out to Sergio Aguero the previous season. He had also scored five goals in thirteen full international appearances for England during 2015 and 2016.

At the end of the 2015/16 season he was off to Euro 2016 with the England. This time Kane’s season ended on 27th June 2016 after England’s embarrassing exit at the round of 16 stage to Iceland. Kane had just played another 11 months of football without a break. 36 days later on 5th August 2016 Kane was scoring again in a pre-season friendly for Spurs against Inter Milan.

What Next?

Pochettino seems to have vented his frustrations for the first time at that press conference. Usually calm and collected and not the kind to give too much away, he offered rare insight into how he felt players are physically abused by the sport. In particular citing the organisers of the respective football competition committees as putting team coaches in a difficult position.

He may have a point. The Premier League season did not have to start on 13th August given that this summer was a tournament year. Already players that were involved in the tournament have pulled up with muscle injuries. This includes Tottenham’s own captain Hugo Lloris and Arsenal’s midfielder Aaron Ramsey. In respect of Kane however, Pochettino went further saying:

“…no holiday, no holiday, no holiday. He plays in the under-21s then he plays in the Euros. He is not a machine. It is important to be clear when the time is to compete and time to rest”.

This season though Tottenham do now have another striker to lean on if they wish. Vincent Janssen signed from AZ Alkmaar in the summer for a reported £17m after finishing as top scorer in the Eredivisie. Pochettino now has an option. He also has a decision to make. Does he rest Kane until he establishes full fitness? Or does he persevere with his first choice striker regardless? The dilemma is his, but not necessarily of his own making or choosing.


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