Can Kane's Loss Be Janssen's Gain
Whenever a footballer faces an injury layoff, two simple yet complex questions must be asked. The first is “how long is the player injured?” and the second is “who is replacing him?”
Tottenham’s star centre-forward Harry Kane has been diagnosed with ligament damage in his right ankle after landing on and turning his right foot in Tottenham’s 6-0 victory over League One side Millwall in the FA Cup quarterfinal. Thankfully for the club, this doesn’t appear to be as serious as his previous injury - a similar bout with ligament damage in the same ankle. The club stated in a statement that it's a less severe injury than the previous, which kept him out 7 weeks.
The starting striker is one of the worst positions to lose, and late in the season, during a cup run with the country’s strongest team looming on the fixture list is by far the worst time. The only good news to be had is that is seems as though Kane will return in time for the FA Cup semi-final tie with London rivals Chelsea.
It is also worth noting that after Sunday’s match with a mid-table Southampton side at White Hart Lane, Europe enters a two-week international break for World Cup qualifiers, meaning that much of Kane’s recovery will not cause him to miss matches. The break will end with Spurs traveling north to face off with Burnley on the April 1st.
That second question that is posed when a player is injured has still gone unanswered. Who should replace Harry Kane? Spurs have two candidates and only one position. Those candidates are South Korean international Heung-Min Son and summer signing Vincent Janssen.
Son, who was recently named to the South Korean national team ahead of their upcoming matches, is capable of playing as an attacking-midfielder or striker (he already has 52 caps for his country). Under the 3-4-2-1 (sometimes 3-4-3) formation, Son has had trouble getting starts due to the form of Christian Eriksen and Dele in the midfield and Kane at forward.
During Kane’s previous injury, Son put away three goals and one assist, all in the month of September. Add a goal earlier in the month, and he would win September’s Player of the Month Award. The club would go on to have a disappointing October and early November, in which they would win 1, draw 4 and lose 1 before drawing the North London Derby 1-1 on Kane’s return.
This season has been an excellent one for Son, to say the least. In all competitions, he currently has 14 goals (0.38 per match), 4 assists (0.11 per match), and 31 shots on target (0.82 per match) in 37 appearances. His 14 goals place him third in the team, behind Dele (16) and Kane (24). He shooting at a modest 38% accuracy and averages 2.2 shots per match. He also scored a hat trick last time out against Millwall, and would of course like to maintain that form.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino’s other option to fill in for Kane is Dutch striker Vincent Janssen. The signing from AZ Alkmaar has struggled in his first season with Tottenham Hotspur, having only scored one goal from open play (against Millwall) and 5 in total in 32 total appearances, a goals-per-match metric of 0.16. Janssen has also tallied 3 assists (0.09 per match) and 16 shots on target (0.5 per match). His 39 total shots mean he is shooting at 41% accuracy.
With all opposition between now and the FA Cup semi-final being mid-table or relegation threatened sides, this is potentially a good time to give Janssen match time as he fights for his career with Spurs.
Pochettino is likely to rotate the two players. Starting Son shows that he wants to do everything he can to ensure the club earns points from the match, where as starting Janssen gives the striker one final chance to earn his place with Tottenham Hotspur.
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