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Pochettino backs Janssen to fill Kane void

mauriciopochettino-cropped Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino (source: Getty Images)

Mauricio Pochettino is confident Vincent Janssen has the quality to lead Tottenham’s line in the absence of Harry Kane against Middlesbrough.

Kane sustained ankle ligament damage after scoring the winner in last weekend’s 1-0 win over Sunderland and will be unavailable for the trip to the Riverside Stadium.

The England striker’s injury has afforded an opportunity to Janssen, who has just one Premier League start to his name in a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

But Spurs manager Pochettino insists the pressure for goals is not solely on the Dutchman’s shoulders.

“It’s not only his responsibility now. It’s a team responsibility and he needs to feel free to play and try to help the team,” he told a pre-match news conference.

“It’s a big opportunity for him to show his real skill. He needs to enjoy the game. He has nothing to show – he just needs to play football.”

The 22 year-old scored his first competitive goal for Tottenham in Wednesday’s 5-0 EFL Cup victory over Gillingham and Pochettino is convinced that Janssen will soon settle into life in the Premier League.

“Always with a striker, they need to feel confidence and feel the net,” he added. 

“It was a good opportunity for him to score his first official goal with us and that is always important. Tomorrow is a chance to maybe start and help the team.

Kyle Walker became the latest Spurs player to extend his contract at White Hart Lane on Friday, joining the likes of Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen in agreeing new terms.

Pochettino hinted at further new deals, while also poking fun at conspiracy theories over his unerringly consistent appearance in promotional photos.

“I promise you in the next few days there will be another, and I will be wearing the same thing,” he joked.

“Maybe I change. In the last one I was in a tracksuit, as the media talked too much about my suit, my position, but it’s okay.”

The Spurs boss also took time to pay tribute to Arsene Wenger’s upcoming landmark of 20 years in charge of north London rivals Arsenal, suggesting he hopes to leave a similar legacy at Tottenham. 

“Twenty years at the same club is a big achievement. Today in football, it’s difficult to think about that,” he said.

“Only people of big charisma and character – like him and [Alex] Ferguson – can achieve that. Maybe one day it can happen with us too.”

Kane’s absence (knee) at the Riverside  will bring an end to his run of 71 consecutive league appearances for the club, while Danny Rose (hamstring), Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier (both cramp) remain doubts.

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