Tottenham still in title race: Son

South Korean star says self-belief is key as Pochettino recalls Janssen to first team

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur will once again look to Son Heung-min for inspiration in the absence of injured captain Harry Kane and midfielder Dele Alli as they take on Newcastle United, who shocked champions Manchester City in midweek.

The South Korean played his first English Premier League match on Wednesday since returning from the Asian Cup and was the standout player against Watford as he netted their crucial equaliser before Spurs ran out 2-1 winners.

Mauricio Pochettino knows how much he needs Son in the absence of Kane and Alli, even if he is aware of the need to avoid burnout.

"He finished very tired, with some cramp. We're going to see if he can recover for the next game," said the Spurs boss after the win.

"If he's okay, maybe he's going to be in the starting XI, if not on the bench. For sure if we need him, he's going to help the team."

Spurs remain seven points adrift of league leaders Liverpool but are now just two points behind second-placed Manchester City.

And Son is adamant that the north London side can still win the Premier League title this season.

"I don't care that people are saying Liverpool or Man City," he said.

"We are still there, we're going for it. They're very good sides like us. We have to just focus on ourselves.

"Every single game, get three points, that's most important. We just believe in our own game, get as many points as possible, and see what happens at the end of the season."

With Kane still sidelined and Fernando Llorente the only backup striker, Pochettino has welcomed forgotten man Vincent Janssen back into the first-team fold.

The Dutch striker, who has been turning out for Spurs' Under-23 side this season as he sought a move away to get his career back on track, had been expected to depart on deadline day on Thursday.

But, despite being linked with several clubs, Spurs found no takers for Janssen at their price point.

Pochettino is now ready to give the 24-year-old a chance to revive his career in England, especially after Mousa Dembele left for China and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou completed a loan move to Monaco.

Asked about Janssen in a press conference yesterday, Pochettino said: "From today, he will be involved in the first team."

Pochettino also gave an update on Kane's recovery from an ankle injury sustained against Manchester United last month. The England international has posted a video on social media which shows that he is already back in light training.

Asked if Kane might be back sooner than the early March date which was originally suggested, Pochettino said: "He is showing on social media that he looks very strong and very fit...

"He is very strong and will put in 200 per cent to try and return as soon as possible. We need to assess, but we are happy in the way that he is recovering."

On Alli, who injured his hamstring against Fulham, Pochettino added: "Dele is the same as Harry - he is doing well."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2019, with the headline 'Tottenham still in title race: Son'. Print Edition | Subscribe