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Silver linings for Tottenham ahead of run-in, despite injury to Harry Kane

Harry Kane limped off in Tottenham’s encounter with Bournemouth.

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Photo: Getty Images

Midway through the first half of Tottenham’s away match at the Vitality Stadium, Harry Kane swept a Christian Eriksen cross into the back of the net. Yet the following moments brought a double dose of bad news-. The goal was flagged for offside and Kane remained, grimacing, on the floor.

The coming together with Asmir Begovic had jarred Kane’s right ankle, and after gingerly returning to his feet, the striker hobbled down the tunnel and was replaced by Erik Lamela. Kane has had ankle troubles in the past, leading many Spurs supporters to hold their breath in fear.

Although the severity of the injury isn’t known yet, the sight of Tottenham’s talismanic goalscorer limping off spells concern for Spurs’ season. A crucial FA Cup quarter-final against a resurgent Swansea beckons next Saturday, a match that is vital to the success of the season.

Having crashed out of the Champions League in midweek, the FA Cup presents the best chance for Tottenham’s trophy hopes – their last piece of silverware was a League Cup triumph all the way back in 2008.

A fit and effective Harry Kane is paramount to Tottenham glory – the Englishman has scored a whopping 24 of his team’s 55 goals to date. Furthermore, there is simply no replacement for Kane in the Spurs bench. Fernando Llorente has struggled to find his form in his limited opportunities thus far, and the man who replaced Kane against Bournemouth is hardly an out-and-out goalscorer.

Luckily for Tottenham, there is a three-week gap between their matchup against Swansea and the next Premier League encounter. Tottenham will travel to west London to face top-four rivals Chelsea, a match that looks set to be a battle for the final Champions League place.

But even after Kane succumbed to his injury, his teammates battled back admirably from a goal down against the Cherries. Goals from Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son gifted Spurs a 4-1 win; two players who will need to step up in Kane’s absence if Tottenham want to salvage their season.

Manchester United

Tottenham’s decision to rush back Harry Kane cost them in the FA Cup

The England international has only recently come back from injury.

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Harry Kane
Photo: Getty Images

Harry Kane was a shadow of his former self against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final Saturday afternoon, contributing little as Tottenham Hotspur fell to a 2-1 defeat.

The English international struggled to influence the match and was clearly off the pace. It is glaringly clear that Mauricio Pochettino rushed Kane back from his ankle injury far too soon; a decision that may well have cost Spurs their best recent chance at silverware.

Back in March, the striker crumpled under an awkward challenge from Bournemouth‘s Asmir Begovic and left the match on crutches. Spurs fans held their breath in fear and were crushed when it was later revealed Kane had suffered ligament damage.

It was a blow that was widely expected to keep Kane on the sidelines for the next couple months, but remarkably the striker returned just three weeks later in a 3-1 away win against Chelsea.

However, in the following run of matches leading up to the season-defining encounter against Manchester United, Kane had largely looked unfit and missing his classic verve and intensity that has come to define his game.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

This lethargy was notably on show in the midweek fixture against Brighton. Although the 24-year-old scored a goal, he appeared tired and unwilling to make his characteristic attacking runs behind the defence.

On the biggest stage of them all, Tottenham’s star striker was well off his prolific best. It was a shame that Kane could not rise to the Wembley occasion and send Spurs to the FA Cup final.

However, it is through no fault of the Englishman, as the blame must be placed on the over-eager Tottenham backroom staff. There was no need to rush Kane back for the league matches before the massive semifinal, and the striker should have been saved for the United match.

As a result of Pochettino’s poor decision, Spurs are trophy-less and Kane is damaged – a tragic turn of events for the north London club.

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English Premier League

Tottenham should target Mario Lemina as long-term Mousa Dembele replacement

The Lilywhites should begin planning for life after the Belgian international.

Jake Jackman

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Mario Lemina
Photo: Getty Images

The upcoming summer is going to be important for every top-six team for different reasons and they will all be looking to compete for the title.

Tottenham have been on the brink of achieving something special under Mauricio Pochettino. They have established themselves as a regular Champions League team and have played some excellent football, but they have yet to deliver a title challenge from post to post and that is their next challenge.

Throughout his time in North London, Pochettino has been reluctant to spend big money on a ready-made world-class player. The Argentine prefers to sign potential and mould a player in his own image. This summer, he will need to strengthen his squad once again as he lacks depth in a couple of positions.

One area of the pitch that he will look to add reinforcements is central midfield. Mousa Dembele has been the star in that position, but he is now 30 and he can’t be expected to play every match across all competitions.

Meanwhile, Victor Wanyama has only played 14 times in the Premier League and seems out of favour with Pochettino. Eric Dier and Harry Winks are both good options, but neither have pushed on in the way that Tottenham would have hoped.

There is a lot of quality in the middle of the park at Tottenham, but there haven’t been two players to make the positions their own. The answer to their midfield problems could come from an unlikely place.

Southampton have been a good stepping stone club since their return to the Premier League and, despite their impending relegation, they could have one more jewel worth pursuing.

(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Mario Lemina has had a mixed first season in England, but there is no doubting his quality in midfield areas. The Gabon international arrived from Juventus and it was considered a coup at the time. He may not have thrived in the manner many expected, but it has been tough to shine in a team battling relegation.

He is a similar midfielder to Dembele in many aspects. Lemina is very effective at winning possession and he is comfortable with the ball at his feet. The 24-year-old averages 2.3 dribbles per game, which is only fractionally lower than the 2.5 managed by the Tottenham midfielder.

Considering Lemina is playing his first season in a new country, this is an encouraging stat and suggests he can become the powerful ball-carrier that Dembele has been in recent seasons. In terms of regaining possession, the Southampton man averages 2.1 tackles won and 1.48 interceptions per ninety minutes.

This is superior to Dembele, who averages 1.14 tackles won and 1.48 interceptions per ninety minutes. There are times when players are stained by a relegation, but the stats underline the impact that Lemina has had on games since arriving in England and in a better team, he could be a revelation.

Southampton are not going to be in a strong negotiating position if they are relegated, as expected. Despite their struggles this season, they have a lot of quality in their squad and there won’t be a shortage of takers for a lot of their players.

Lemina is the standout in their squad and his experience with Juventus means that he has the mentality to step up to one of the top six clubs. He looks a perfect fit for Tottenham and would be a great long-term replacement for Dembele.

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English Premier League

Could Sam Johnstone challenge Hugo Lloris for the number one spot at Spurs?

The Manchester United goalkeeper would be a shrewd addition from Tottenham Hotspur.

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This summer it appears as though Tottenham Hotspur will be needing to sign a new goalkeeper. Michel Vorm is out of contract and with only Argentine stopper Paulo Gazzaniga in reserve, Mauricio Pochettino will be targeting another stopper to play back-up to club captain Hugo Lloris. Now, according to The Sun, that man has been identified in the form of Manchester United stopper Sam Johnstone.

The Englishman has been in fine form this season, during a loan spell at Championship side Aston Villa. Johnstone is out of contract at Old Trafford in June and Spurs would like to bring him to North London to continue his career.

Undoubtedly the time has come for Johnstone to leave United, where he clearly is not seen as a first-teamer for the future. However, if he moved to Spurs, he would just be back on the bench playing back-up once again.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

But perhaps not?

Johnstone is a fantastic goalkeeper and, at 25-years-old, he should no longer be considered a second-choice keeper.

His form for Villa this season has been impressive however and, if he did head to Spurs, there is no doubt he would want to push Lloris for the starting spot.

Based on recent form, that should not be considered an unlikelihood anymore.

Lloris has been performing poorly recently, making uncharacteristic mistakes. His form has seen some Tottenham fans question whether or not the Frenchman may now be past his best.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Johnstone may not be a household name, but when coming through the ranks at United he was considered the top keeper in his age bracket on the international scene – ahead of current England contender Jack Butland.

If Johnstone was to arrive at Tottenham this summer he would surely not be looking to simply sit on the bench week in and week out. If he could perform like he has been at Villa, Johnstone might actually be in with a shout of becoming the Tottenham number one.

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