LONDON • Just 21 days after Harry Kane suffered ankle ligament damage at Bournemouth, the Tottenham Hotspur striker could make a surprise return against Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday.
Mauricio Pochettino yesterday refused to rule Kane out of the visit to Stamford Bridge even though the Spurs manager had indicated that the England international would not return to training until next month at the earliest.
"We need to assess him in the next few days," Pochettino told a press conference.
"It's difficult now to say yes or no. I cannot say no, but I cannot say yes. Maybe next weekend (he will return against Stoke).
"But the most important is that we are so positive about his recovery. We are doing fantastic and we are so happy.
"After Bournemouth, everybody believed it would be a long period out, but the resolution has been fantastic. He is very positive and he is doing very well. Every day he is improving."
We are so positive about his recovery.
We are doing fantastic and we are so happy.
MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Tottenham manager, on Harry Kane's recovery from his ankle injury.
When you have a player, a striker, who scores 30 goals every season, for sure when he's missing you can feel this.
ANTONIO CONTE, Chelsea boss, on Kane. POSITIVE POCHETTINO
Tottenham went on to defeat Bournemouth 4-1 and have played just one other game since Kane was sidelined on March 11.
That was another Spurs win - a 3-0 victory over Swansea in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
As such, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is mindful that fourth-placed Spurs - one rung and five points above his side - are capable of winning at Stamford Bridge for the first time since 1990, with or without Kane.
The England striker has scored 31 goals in all competitions this season, with eight league matches remaining for Spurs.
"I consider him one of the best strikers in the world," Conte told reporters during his news conference when asked about Kane yesterday.
"When you have a player, a striker, who scores 30 goals every season, for sure when he's missing you can feel this.
"But, at the same time, Tottenham are an important team for the whole team. They have many important players, many talented players. They play good football with great intensity.
"Also, in the past, they showed that, despite Kane missing many games, nothing has changed."
Both teams are looking to secure a top-four finish to ensure participation in next season's Champions League, and Pochettino said that his men will be under as much pressure as their London rivals on Sunday.
"It is always a massive game because it is a London derby. I think when you play this type of game, I think the pressure is for both teams," he said.
"Of course there are still a lot of games to play, it is not a final. It is not a decisive game that is going to put you in one or another position... but obviously it is important for your confidence, your motivation."
The Argentinian also suggested that Tottenham's rivalry with Chelsea is on a par with the enmity they share with north London neighbours Arsenal.
"They are a very good team, and always it is tough to compete with them," he said.
"I think to compare with Arsenal, it is similar in everything. Arsenal and Chelsea always are tough games, because they are derbies and, for me, it is a similar type of opponent.
"But, for us, three points for us will be fantastic."