Harry Kane’s return for Tottenham Hotspur could not be better timed with the club in the middle of a sticky patch – but fans should not expect too much too soon from their top striker, according to Spurs great Glenn Hoddle.
Kane, the Premier League’s leading scorer last season with 25 goals, has been out since injuring an ankle on Sept. 18 and Tottenham’s scored only six times in their last eight games.
The England international could play some part in Sunday’s derby at Arsenal when Tottenham, without a win in six, will attempt to extend a four-game unbeaten league run against the Gunners.
Hoddle, however, is worried that too much responsibility is being placed on Kane’s shoulders.
“You can’t expect him to come back at his very best straight away. Mentally, he has some hard work to do,” Hoddle told Reuters this week at an event where he was named the club’s greatest player.
“Hopefully, he can score a few on the way to finding his best form. But he needs to just focus on being a goalscorer, a penalty area poacher, and others need to step up to the plate.
“Let’s be fair, Harry wasn’t in the best of form (before his injury). In the middle of last season, he was on fire. I think he will get back to that form again but you can’t think he will come straight back in and pick up where he was.
“The break may have allowed him to re-charge, but for a striker six weeks is a long time. There are a few barriers he will need to get through.”
Tottenham are unbeaten in the Premier League this season but have drawn half of their 10 games, including the last three, and have fallen three points behind leaders Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Hoddle said that run has increased the pressure on Mauricio Pochettino’s team for Sunday.
“Unbeaten is not the run you need if you’ve drawn five,” he said. “It’s about winning football matches. You would have preferred to have lost one and won the next two.
“If Spurs had been in a good vein of form, winning matches, they could have settled for a point at Arsenal. But this one Tottenham really need to win now.”
If Tottenham are to mount a title challenge, the goals need to start flowing again, says Hoddle, who in his heyday in the 1980s regularly chipped in with double figures from midfield.
Their total of 14 is way below the four sides above them.
“It’s not just about them missing Kane,” he said. “I think (Vincent) Janssen has come in and not achieved what they were hoping. (Christian) Eriksen needs to score more from open play and Dele Alli has to become a consistent goalscorer.
“Alli is very close to scoring a hatful in every game. He needs to just keep getting in good positions and it will turn.”