LONDON • While Tottenham's ability to remain focused on on-pitch affairs has propelled the club into second place in the Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino knows the upcoming loss of Son Heung-min will be one hurdle Spurs will find hard to overcome.
The London club have dealt admirably with the delays affecting the long-awaited move to their new stadium and speculation that their manager will move to a bigger club, notably Manchester United or Real Madrid, in the summer.
But Pochettino admitted Son's second absence of the season - he will spearhead South Korea's challenge at next month's Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates - will hit their Premier League title challenge hard.
The forward, who missed the start of the season after leading his country to the football gold medal at the Asian Games in August, has scored five goals in his last three games in all competitions.
After Tottenham smashed Bournemouth 5-0 at home in the league on Wednesday, Pochettino hailed the 26-year-old for "doing a fantastic job for the team".
The Argentinian said: "I hope he can keep that level, but you know, in a few weeks, he is going to be away from Tottenham because he needs to go with his national team to Dubai to play the Asian Cup."
Although Son will stay in England until Spurs' league clash against Manchester United at Wembley on Jan 13, he will miss league games against Fulham, Watford and Newcastle.
He will also miss the second leg of their League Cup semi-final with Chelsea should the Taeguk Warriors reach the Cup final on Feb 1.