Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino admits Harry Kane is short of confidence and believes playing for England under-21s contributed to the striker’s loss of form.
Kane has scored only twice in the 16 Spurs appearances since his memorable England debut in March and the forward is yet to get off the mark for his club this season.
Spurs have been eager to protect Kane and expressed reservations about his involvement in the under-21 European Championships last summer – a tournament that involved three matches across 10 days in the Czech Republic and meant their star player arrived late for pre-season.
Kane has not looked tired, and has played well for Spurs in his overall game, but Pochettino believes his talisman is lacking the confidence he enjoyed a few months ago.
“The striker sometimes needs confidence and trust and maybe he has lost his confidence a little bit,” Pochettino said.
“It’s our job to give back his confidence so he can start to score. I think he is the same person and he has the same mentality as last season.
“But maybe at the end of the season he rested, went to the Euros, didn’t score at the Euros after three games, he came back late for pre-season and you need time to recover.
“Sometimes you are not in the best scoring condition when you start to play and your confidence goes down.
“This is probably what has happened. But this is a good experience for the future, to manage a young player like he is.”
Hype surrounding Kane’s rise to prominence reached its peak after he notched within 79 seconds of his England debut while Tottenham fans revelled in the success of their home-grown hero.
“This is why last season towards to the end we tried to explain that last season for Harry Kane was very, very hard,” Pochettino said.
“Not only on the pitch, but off the pitch with the pressure – he is a hero for Tottenham and England – it was unbelievable how people see him.
“It’s not easy to recover because it’s not only physical, also mental. It’s true that maybe the summer did not help.”
Kane is not the only high-profile striker struggling to find his stride, with last season’s other three top scorers – Sergio Aguero, Alexis Sanchez and Diego Costa – mustering only two league goals between them so far.
“You can improve a lot in the bad moments,” Pochettino said.
“For Harry it’s a very tough moment. He is still young. You can improve and realise who are your people and the people who can help you.
“When you are on the crest of a wave, there are a lot of people around you.
“It was easy when he scored to talk about him but now maybe the confidence he needs…but this is football.
“The club have very good people, me and my staff at the club. We are all behind him to help him.”
Spurs host league leaders Manchester City on Saturday, hoping to bounce back from the Capital One Cup defeat to rivals Arsenal in midweek.
Ryan Mason is out with a knee injury while Mousa Dembele, Nabil Bentaleb and Alex Pritchard all have ankle problems and are unavailable.
Pritchard’s absence has been particularly disappointing for Spurs, after the 22-year-old winger arrived on the back of 12 goals on loan at Brentford last season.
“It is difficult because he arrived in the summer, now with the injury it has been difficult for him for weeks and weeks to learn about the team and to show his quality,” Pochettino said.
“For that, we are – not worried – but a little bit sad, because it will take more time for him. He is close.”
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