Spurs manager upbeat on revival

Tottenham's Harry Kane training with team-mates yesterday ahead of their Champions League clash with Leverkusen at Wembley. The Englishman's return cannot come soon enough for his side, who have struggled up front without him. In a tight group, they
Tottenham's Harry Kane training with team-mates yesterday ahead of their Champions League clash with Leverkusen at Wembley. The Englishman's return cannot come soon enough for his side, who have struggled up front without him. In a tight group, they are a point behind leaders Monaco but one above the German side.PHOTO: REUTERS

He expects Kane to return after injury this week, as draws have stalled title push

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino insists the frustration of Tottenham Hotspur's recent barren run will not become a distraction, as his injury-plagued side look to get back on track in the Champions League.

A 1-1 draw with Leicester City on Saturday left Tottenham manager Pochettino counting the cost of five games without a victory.

West Bromwich Albion, Bournemouth and Bayer Leverkusen also held Tottenham to draws, while Liverpool knocked them out of the League Cup in the round of 16.

Those setbacks have punctured the buoyant mood at White Hart Lane since their impressive win against Manchester City.

But Pochettino knows injuries have been at the root of Tottenham's problems and he hopes the results will pick up once the wounded return to action.

Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld are still recovering from ankle and leg injuries respectively, while Moussa Sissoko is out suspended and Erik Lamela has been ill.

LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

I never panic. In football, no. In a bad period we are also very positive because we are unbeaten. Maybe we don't win but we don't lose and that is important.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Spurs manager, who is confident they will turn the corner once he has a full squad to pick from.

Kane and Alderweireld remain unavailable for the match against Leverkusen in the Champions League at Wembley today but could return in time for the north London derby at Arsenal this weekend.

Asked if he had endured a spell in management as frustrating as this, Pochettino said: "Yes it is true it is a tough period when you play, play, play that you need all the squad available, but you need to adapt to the competition and we are happy.

"It is true we are disappointed with the last few results but in the same way we need to take positives in and keep working."

Tottenham remain unbeaten in the Premier League and are second in Champions League Group D, but they have a tough month ahead that will play a major role in determining the course of their season.

The crunch games against Leverkusen and Arsenal come before two more grudge matches against London rivals West Ham and Chelsea, either side of a trip to Monaco in the Champions League.

"I never panic," Pochettino said. "In football, no. In a bad period we are also very positive because we are unbeaten. Maybe we don't win but we don't lose and that is important."

Kane's return cannot come soon enough for Tottenham, who have struggled for attacking fluency and penetration without their first-choice striker.

Vincent Janssen scored his first Premier League goal from the penalty spot against Leicester but the Dutchman has yet to register from open play for his new club and would appear to need more time to settle.

Pochettino was also keen to stress his midfield's contribution.

In the five league games since Kane's injury, Dele Alli and Son Heung Min have each scored twice but the likes of Christian Eriksen, Lamela, Sissoko and Mousa Dembele have all failed to find the net.

"Dele, Christian, all the players in the second line, need to be more determined to score," Pochettino said. "We cannot only have all the pressure on our striker.

"We don't concede but we don't score too much and I think we need to because we are creating enough chances but we need to be more determined to score."

Leverkusen will be without influential captain Lars Bender today.

Right-back Bender, who won a silver medal with Germany at August's Rio Olympics, is out with a bruised heel from Saturday's 2-1 comeback win at Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.

Also out injured is Australian winger Robbie Kruse, although he is out of favour and has not featured in either the Bundesliga or Champions League this season.

But Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt has Germany international Jonathan Tah and Turkey's Omer Toprak fit after injuries to strengthen his defence.

The Germans are relishing facing Tottenham at Wembley. "Wembley has legends and the aura, but Tottenham will have to put in a good performance to beat us," said Leverkusen's director of sport Rudi Voller.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOTTENHAM V LEVERKUSEN
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2016, with the headline 'Spurs manager upbeat on revival'. Print Edition | Subscribe