Mauricio Pochettino admits Harry Kane is not fit after the Tottenham boss substituted his star striker in the second half of Spurs’ 2-2 draw against Stoke.
Eric Dier and Nacer Chadli looked to have put Spurs on course for their first win of the season but Marko Arnautovic’s 78th-minute penalty and Mame Biram Diouf’s header ensured Stoke left White Hart Lane with a point.
Tottenham’s capitulation seemed to be prompted by the substitutions of Kane and Ryan Mason, who were replaced shortly after the hour, as the hosts surrendered control of the contest.
Kane had looked lively, playing a superb pass through to Ben Davies in the build-up to Chadli’s goal, while also having an emphatic finish ruled out for offside.
Pochettino, however, is meticulous about his players’ fitness and Kane joined up late with the club’s pre-season programme after representing England at the Under-21 European Championships this summer.
“He was tired,” Pochettino said.
“He came later in pre-season and it is normal. He is better but he needs time to arrive.
“We knew before the end of last season Harry Kane would play a lot and the consequences you can see now.”
Pochettino added: “Every game is different, today my feeling was he was tired.
“This is the truth, at 2-0, after 65 minutes, I think it was enough for him. We don’t take risks with his body.”
Kane’s lack of fitness will be a concern for Pochettino, particularly given the club’s shortage of options up front with Roberto Soldado having already departed for Villarreal and Emmanuel Adebayor not in the Argentinian’s plans.
The signing of Lyon forward Clinton N’Jie was confirmed before kick-off on Saturday morning but the Cameroon international is more comfortable playing wide in an attacking three, rather than as a centre forward.
“N’Jie can play in different positions. Centrally? He can play there but I think we need another centre forward,” Pochettino said.
“We need to add some more players to the squad but don’t worry, I think today we deserved to win – it wasn’t a problem about the strikers.”
The draw means Tottenham have taken only one point from their opening two matches after losing at Manchester United on the opening day of the season.
“This is the beginning of the season,” Pochettino said.
“It is true we have taken only one point from two games but the performance against Manchester United was good, today was very good in the first 70 minutes, but we need to be more consistent over 90 minutes.”
Hughes has now led Stoke to two wins and a draw in their his three meetings with Spurs and the Welshman was delighted with the impact of his own substitutes, with Stephen Ireland and Joselu both playing a part in the Potters’ goals.
“At 2-0 it was a big ask for us but it’s fair to say we had a discussion at half time,” Hughes said.
“We didn’t allow Tottenham to have much easy possession in their own half, we affected the rhythm of their play and the introductions of Stephen and Joselu gave us ball retention in the key areas.
“If we had had 10 or 15 more minutes maybe we would have won it but given the circumstances we’re delighted to have come back and got a point out the game.”
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