Tottenham do not need Harry Kane to win at Manchester United on Saturday, according to manger Mauricio Pochettino.
Kane, who has already hit 13 goals for Spurs this season, was forced off late on in last weekend’s 4-1 win over Liverpool with a hamstring issue.
Now the 24-year-old will not feature against United as Tottenham look to address a recent poor record at Old Trafford to leapfrog Jose Mourinho’s side in the table.
Pochettino said he was not willing to take a “risk” by involving Kane – who hit a brace against Liverpool before his late injury – with other big games on the horizon.
And the Argentinian insists his Spurs side can still pick up the win that would see the visitors leapfrog United in the table.
Asked if Tottenham could be victorious in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off without their talisman, Pochettino replied: “Yes, of course. I always believe we can win with one or another team, with one or another player. Of course.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola recently labelled Tottenham as “the Harry Kane team” but Pochettino pointed to last season where Spurs coped without Kane as he nursed an ankle injury as proof they can be successful without their talisman.
“We don’t need to prove ourselves, that we’re Tottenham,” he said.
“Maybe people expect that but for us, no. I think last season, in the period he was injured, you can see the stats and the games we played – win and lose with Harry, win and lose without Harry.
“I’m disappointed because he is our main striker and I think he is one of the best strikers in Europe, in the world, and always you are going to miss your best striker. I am not silly or stupid to talk in a different way.
“You always want all the players available…we always believe in collective, the squad. During the season, problems happen and you must trust all the players, all the squad.
“We have played without Harry before. We have Fernando (Llorente) and if you remember last season when Harry was out for many games we played with Son (Heung-min). It’s about finding the best solution and balance for the team.”
The club described Kane’s injury as a “minor strain to the left hamstring” which has already been assessed.
Pochettino also said it is only a small problem but he did not want to exacerbate the issue by playing him against United.
“We can’t take the risk,” he said.
“The doctor and medical staff made the decision to not take the risk. There is no sense in taking that risk and making the problem bigger.
“The players are not machines and it is so difficult to cope with international duty and playing every three days.
“It is not a big problem, only a small issue, but he is not going to play (on Saturday).”
Pochettino could hand summer signing Llorente his full Premier League debut in place of Kane, while utilising Son an out-and-out striker is also a possibility.