Jose Mourinho wants Harry Kane to “play every minute of every game” but says the Tottenham talisman was handed a rest on Thursday to manage his current fitness concerns.
Kane suffered an ankle problem in Spurs’ defeat to Liverpool on January 28, and seemed set to miss several weeks, only to be brought back into the fold ahead of schedule to face West Brom on February 7.
It was a move which paid off, Kane scoring in a 2-0 win – Spurs’ only league victory from their last five top-flight matches.
After coming on in the FA Cup defeat to Everton and playing against Manchester City last week, Kane did not travel to Budapest for the first leg of Spurs’ Europa League round of 32 tie with Austrian side Wolfsberger on Thursday.
Tottenham did the job without their star forward, as Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius secured a 4-1 win and aggregate advantage heading into the reverse fixture.
“He knows I want to play him every minute of every game so it is never a question of a choice,” Mourinho told a news conference when asked about Kane.
“I wanted to come here with the best team and the players to give us more opportunities to have a good result but he made the decision based on his feelings which was that to play in this game was a risk with the accumulation of minutes after the injury he had.
“Myself and the medical department agreed with him, to give him this opportunity to take care of his condition. But I believe Sunday he will be okay and ready.”
2013 – Gareth Bale has scored and assisted in a game for Spurs for the first time since April 2013 against Manchester City at White Hart Lane. Continued.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 18, 2021
Kane is Spurs’ joint top-scorer in the league this season – alongside Son – with 13 goals, while the England captain has also provided 11 assists.
He has created a total of 32 chances, second only to Son, while 29 of them have come from open play – six more than his South Korean team-mate.
Of the opportunities Kane has crafted for team-mates, 12 of them are big chances, once more a team-high, and his big chance conversion rate is 60 per cent.
Spurs did not miss him against Wolfsberger though, and one player to step up was Bale, who teed up Son’s opener before adding a brilliant second.
It was the first time Bale has scored and assisted for Spurs in a match since April 2013, when he did so against Manchester City, and Mourinho – who took the 31-year-old off with just over an hour played – suggested the Real Madrid loanee could be in line for a third Premier League start of the season against West Ham on Sunday.
“One of the reasons why Gareth left the pitch by 64 minutes was to try to have him available for the next match because one of the things that is not easy in relation to his condition is the accumulation of minutes,” said Mourinho.
“I believe he has a chance to play the match on Sunday.”