Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino hopes Harry Kane will be fit if his side can reach the Champions League final.
Kane is in rehabilitation after suffering “significant” ligament damage in his right ankle during Spurs’ quarter-final first-leg win over Manchester City in early April and he is not expected to feature again in the regular campaign.
But if Pochettino’s side can advance past Ajax in the last-four of the Champions League, the first leg of which comes next week following Saturday’s visit of West Ham, then the boss has not given up hope that his star striker will be fit for the Madrid showpiece on June 1.
Spurs have been very coy about his expected recovery, refusing to put a timeframe on it, while the England captain has the happy knack of coming back much earlier than expected from previous similar injuries.
Asked whether he would be fit for the Champions League final should Spurs make it, Pochettino replied: “I hope, yes. I think he’s doing well but you know, today, I cannot guess.
“He can be available before or after. That is going to depend on his rehab.
“Now he is in a very good period that is going forward quick but always the last moment is the most difficult situation – to take the decision to play or not.
“You cannot guess today. If you said to me today, my gut is maybe he can be available, because I know Harry Kane, the determination to work and to be focused and recover as soon as possible but I am not a doctor. This is only my gut.”
Kane will be doing everything he can to get back to fitness regardless of Spurs’ European adventure as England are involved in the UEFA Nations League.
But the prospect of helping Spurs to glory will be another huge motivational factor, having missed one of the club’s most memorable nights in their recent history when they completed the job against City last week.
— Harry Kane (@HKane) April 17, 2019
Kane posted his celebratory scenes on social media just after full-time, but Pochettino knows that would not have been the same for him.
“He’s very motivated,” the Argentinian added. “Of course, we were talking before, the players are sad because to arrive in this moment and be injured and not be part of the squad.
“They are part of the success but not to be involved in the games, to live this experience, always it’s tough for the players – to watch from your home.
“Of course he was happy and the other [injured] players were so happy but it’s not the same as being there, living the experience.”
One man who is hoping to benefit from Kane’s absence is forgotten man Vincent Janssen, who made his first appearance since August 2017 in Tuesday’s win over Brighton.
Such has been Spurs’ shortage of players that the Dutchman has been given an unlikely second chance, after Pochettino had previously said there was no future for him at the club.
“There are many things that happened and you know better than me,” Pochettino added. “Players wanted to leave for different reasons and then in the end they do not achieve to go.
“In the end, there are so many things around players and then they say sorry or ask to be forgiven by their managers.
“A hundred things happen every day and we cannot explain everything. Then the injuries sometimes, then people around players create different news.
“The most important is that nobody can say we lied or we are not honest with them. Always they have the chance to be part of the team. Our decision is always professional and based on football.
“And now that he is in a position where he can help the team, of course, he is available to use, why not?”