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Harry Kane's Injury Is The Chance That Vincent Janssen Needs to Impose Himself at Spurs

26/09/2016 12:50

​When Vincent Janssen joined Tottenham Hotspur for £17m as the Eredivisie top scorer, the question everyone was asking was would he be a Ruud van Nistelrooy or an Afonse Alves - a striker capable of making the transition from Dutch to English football or who one who'll flop?

Six weeks into the new season, the reality is that we still haven't got a proper idea.

Janssen has only started one of the six games Spurs have played in all competitions so far, playing just 39 minutes in the month of September at the time of writing. He hasn't had the opportunity to impose himself yet, or to show the form and ability that saw him score 27 goals in 34 league appearances for AZ Alkmaar last season.

Now, with Harry Kane's injury, that chance is here.

After a promising debut from the bench on the opening day of the season, Janssen was handed his only start, alongside Kane, in the narrow win over Crystal Palace in August.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino has stuck with a one-striker system since then, limiting playing time for Janssen and making it tough for him to make an impact in the role of a substitute. But with Kane expected to miss up to two months following ankle ligament damage, it's time for the Dutchman to step into that void.

Before the end of November, the longest that Kane is likely to be sidelined for, Spurs must face Manchester City, Leicester, Arsenal, West Ham and Chelsea in the Premier League, all huge games for one reason or another.

In Europe, following an opening Champions League loss at 'home' against Monaco, there are away trips to CSKA Moscow and Bayer Leverkusen ahead of a subsequent return with the principality club, all before 22nd November. Kane could miss all of them, and Janssen could make himself a hero.

He won't be pleased about the injury to a team-mate, of course he won't. But, secretly, Janssen will know that this is the best thing that could have happened to him.

What's important here is that he no longer has time to think - Am I ready? Am I settled? Do I know the tactics and these players well enough? Thinking time can be a footballer's worst enemy, whether it be on the pitch, on the bench, or off the pitch. Now, he just has to 'do'.

Janssen is certainly capable of taking his opportunity. This time last year he was a nobody having only just joined AZ from Almere City in the Dutch second tier. He'd been released by Feyenoord as a teenager and had never played higher than the Eerste Divisie in his young career. To then finish as top scorer in the top flight at the first attempt says there is something almost Kane-like about him.

Janssen should, in theory, have plenty of service to get that all-important first goal too. Spurs have creative players capable of making chances. There were 31 attempts on goal against Sunderland, and 20 against both Stoke and Crystal Palace. Coming into a winning team will also be a big help.

As far as Kane is concerned, an injury like this might actually be a good thing. Not for Spurs, who will obviously miss their talisman, and not for the fans who want to see one of their own leading the line, but for the player himself who could probably do with the rest while he recovers.

It's only early in the season but it must not be forgotten that Kane hasn't had a full summer's rest since his breakout campaign in 2014/15. He played at Euro 2016 for England this year and at the Under-21 European Championships in 2015. The cumulative effect of the disruption to the usual holiday period and subsequent delay of pre-season cannot be underestimated.

Combine that with the fact he's been Spurs' only real striking option during that period and has played as many as 107 club games since August 2014, there's going to be a physical toll.

Kane isn't thought to have suffered any bone fractures of ligament tears when he rolled his ankle, so the damage from the strain won't be long-term and will heal with rest and time. While that process is ongoing, he can rest in general as well.

In the meantime, it's up to Vincent Janssen to score the goals and give Mauricio Pochettino the good kind of manager headache for when a refreshed Kane is ready to come back into the fold.

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