Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has insisted his side do not need to prove they can win without Harry Kane as they head to Manchester United on Saturday without the injured forward.
Kane has already hit 13 goals for Spurs this season but was forced off late on in last weekend’s 4-1 win over Liverpool with a hamstring issue.
The 24-year-old will not feature against United as Tottenham look to address a recent poor record at Old Trafford and leapfrog Jose Mourinho’s side in the Premier League table.
Pochettino said he was not willing to take a “risk” by involving Kane – who hit a brace against Liverpool before his late injury – with other big games on the horizon.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola recently labelled Tottenham as “the Harry Kane team” but Pochettino pointed to last term, when Spurs coped without Kane as he nursed an ankle injury, as proof they can be successful without their talisman.
“We don’t need to prove ourselves, that we’re Tottenham,” he said.
“Maybe people expect that but for us, no. I think last season, in the period he was injured, you can see the stats and the games we played – win and lose with Harry, win and lose without Harry.
“I’m disappointed because he is our main striker and I think he is one of the best strikers in Europe, in the world, and always you are going to miss your best striker. I am not silly or stupid to talk in a different way.
“You always want all the players available… We always believe in collective, the squad. During the season, problems happen and you must trust all the players, all the squad.”
The club described Kane’s injury as a “minor strain to the left hamstring” which has already been assessed.
Pochettino said it was only a “small issue” but he did not want to exacerbate the problem by playing him against United.
“We can’t take the risk,” the Argentinian said. “The doctor and medical staff made the decision to not take the risk. There is no sense in taking that risk and making the problem bigger.
“The players are not machines and it is so difficult to cope with international duty and playing every three days. It is not a big problem, only a small issue, but he is not going to play (on Saturday).”
Pochettino could hand summer signing Fernando Llorente his full Premier League debut in place of Kane, while utilising Son Heung-min as an out-and-out striker is also a possibility.
“We need to wait until (Saturday) to decide the formation,” he added. “We can use different formations. We worked a lot on it in pre-season. The players can adapt to one or another shape. We need to assess everyone and make a decision to be competitive.”
Third-placed Tottenham head to Manchester level on 20 points with United, with both teams five points behind leaders Manchester City.