Tottenham Hotspur could face a striker crisis after leading scorer Harry Kane was injured during stoppage time in their damaging 1-0 defeat at home by Manchester United on Sunday.
With the in-form South Korean Son Heung-min playing his last match before heading off to the Asia Cup, the last thing Pochettino needed was the sight of Kane hobbling off the pitch after being clattered by United’s Phil Jones late on.
Kane and Son have scored 22 goals between them this season and, without them, Tottenham look short of goals, especially with Spaniard Fernando Llorente struggling for form.
“It was a clear foul on Harry Kane, a big hit, (referee) Mike Dean said he didn’t see it,” Pochettino said of Jones’ challenge.
“Kane twisted his ankle and we hope that it is not a big issue. My worry is that it was a bad tackle in the last moment.
“It wasn’t the intention of the United player but it was a bad tackle and now he has bit of a swelling on his ankle and he was limping after the game.
“We are going to lose Son for the Asia Cup and if Harry Kane suffers an injury, it is going to be massive for us.”
Tottenham also lost midfield powerhouse Moussa Sissoko to a groin injury before halftime, adding to their woes.
Defeat left Spurs nine points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool and they will be five behind Manchester City if the champions win against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday.
Pochettino hails Spurs’ “best 45 minutes” despite loss
Pochettino praised his Tottenham Hotspur side’s “best 45 minutes” in his four-and-a-half years at the club despite the costly 1-0 defeat. Tottenham were chasing a first league double over United since the 1989-90 season after a 3-0 away victory in August but despite his obvious disappointment Pochettino said Sunday’s performance was much better than the one at Old Trafford.
“I am so pleased and I’m proud,” Pochettino, who is being strongly linked to the Manchester United manager’s job, told reporters. “For me it was one of the best performances that I saw since I’ve been here and the best 45 minutes.
“I think David de Gea made 11 saves, which is unbelievable. We didn’t create much in the first half but we dominated.
“Overall, it was fantastic. My feeling today is the opposite of when we won at Old Trafford. After we won that game 3-0, I wasn’t happy but today after the defeat I’m very pleased with the performance.
“That’s the way we want to build a team for the future, to be close to win the title.
“I’m not happy with the result, of course, but very happy with the reaction after conceding the goal. We created more than enough chances to win the game. In the end, that is football.”
A sixth win out of six in all competitions since taking over from Jose Mourinho means United’s interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s chances of taking the full-time post are increasing.
Pochettino moving to Old Trafford still seems likely, however, even if the Argentine, unsurprisingly, refused to be drawn into that discussion after the game.
“I don’t think it’s ethical to talk about what he’s doing or what I’m doing,” Pochettino said. “You can only talk about today’s game. And today we were better.
“Today, it was a game between Tottenham and Manchester United, not a game between him and me, one versus one on the pitch.”
With Harry Kane suffering an injury in stoppage time, Moussa Sissoko limping off before halftime and in-form South Korean Son Heung-min jetting off to the Asian Cup, Pochettino’s stretched squad now face a key test over the coming weeks. They remain third but Chelsea are only one point behind while Arsenal and United are seven adrift.
United look re-born under Solskjaer, however, and the Norwegian believes the top-four chase is on. “We had to beat them today if we were to have a chance to catch them,” he said. “We were 10 points behind and now it’s seven. That’s catchable. Thirteen is impossible, 10 is difficult, now we have a chance.”
“I’m just doing my job every single day here until my contract runs out at the end of June and then I’ll have a holiday. Not thinking about (the full-time job) whatsoever.”