Spurs face tough season: Pochettino

Tottenham's Harry Kane scoring the only goal of the match against Sunderland in the English Premier League on Sunday. The striker later suffered an ankle injury and had to be stretchered off the pitch.
Tottenham's Harry Kane scoring the only goal of the match against Sunderland in the English Premier League on Sunday. The striker later suffered an ankle injury and had to be stretchered off the pitch.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino admitted Tottenham Hotspur may already be feeling the pace after being left to sweat on an injury to striker Harry Kane, who was carried off after scoring the winner in a 1-0 win over Sunderland at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Kane scored his second goal in as many league games but he was taken off on a stretcher late on after a tackle by Papy Djilobodji, with an initial diagnosis of a twisted ankle.

Victory lifted Tottenham into third place in the Premier League to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

"Harry twisted his ankle and he felt pain," said Pochettino.

"It could be a problem with his ligament but today is difficult to assess and give an opinion."

"It is difficult without him, but we signed (Vincent) Janssen, he's working very well and he is a striker that can give us a lot of things."

The Tottenham manager also believes the rigours of Champions League football and international tournaments are already starting to take their toll, with Mousa Dembele also leaving the field due to cramps.

"The Champions League is a new competition for us and we spent a lot of energy on Wednesday," he said. "It was different from the last two seasons when we were only playing in the Europa League, where we could rotate the squad and the starting eleven.

"All our internationals had a difficult summer, they played in the Euros, and it's more difficult to get fit."

Spurs' opponents Sunderland are yet to win in the Premier League this season, and continued a poor run of not winning in either August or September since 2012.

Their preparations were further dented with the curious withdrawal of Patrick van Aanholt just before kick-off.

Sunderland manager David Moyes claimed the decision was made for medical reasons but TV replays appeared to show the Sunderland defender reacting with surprise when he was given the news.

Van Aanholt later marched out of the ground unaided, refusing to answer questions.

Moyes later acknowledged that his explanation of "medical reasons" might not be the whole truth.

However, with the dismissal of Adnan Januzaj late on, Moyes felt his players fell foul of referee Mike Dean.

"I was disappointed with him (Januzaj), but I was also disappointed with the referee, because it was a free kick on the edge of the box and he doesn't give it," Moyes said.

Sunderland are second from bottom with just one point.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2016, with the headline 'Spurs face tough season: Pochettino'. Print Edition | Subscribe