Jose Mourinho admits that the injury to talisman Harry Kane will change Tottenham’s approach against Liverpool on Saturday – but is equally excited for the return of a key defender.
Tottenham are looking to end a run of three games without a win – their longest winless spell since Mourinho took charge – but to do so, they have the thankless task of trying to become the first team to beat Liverpool in the Premier League this season.
To make matters more complicated, the Spurs squad is plagued with an injury crisis – with star striker Harry Kane ruled out until the spring.
However, Mourinho insisted that his side must be confident going into the game, and pointed out that two of his key players are returning from injuries of their own, so his side should focus on the good news.
“We have injuries but again if I think about the injuries, who is not playing, I’m not as confident and motivated as I am,” he explained at a press conference, “so I have to focus on what we did in the week, concentrate on the effort and enthusiasm the boys put in this week and the motivation you must have to play against the best teams.
“We are playing against the best teams. You are confident or not confident. If you are not confident it’s better to stay at home. If you’re confident, it’s not going to be easy, but if you’re confident you’re going with everything that you have and that’s what I want the boys to do, go with everything we have.
“That’s life, that’s football. Of course, [the Kane injury is] bad news but we have to be positive and look to the good news.
“Good news is that before the end of the month we have two new players, [Hugo] Lloris and Ben Davies. This is good news.
“Lloris never played a game for me, Ben played one, and very, very well in a system we were trying to develop which was only possible with him because he’s the one left-back that can play in that inside position – because Danny Rose is a pure left-back, Jan Vertonghen is not a left-back and Ryan Sessegnon is learning how to be a left-back. So Ben is very important for our project. So it’s good news.
“Of course Harry is important, irreplaceable. There’s no player who can replace Harry Kane, and Moussa [Sissoko, also out until April after undergoing surgery] is playing so, so well with us. I think, since I arrived one of our best performers.
“It’s not a couple of weeks until they’re back. It’s surgery, and a long, long time. I never spoke about Lloris in my first two months here and if you allow me, I would like not to speak about Harry Kane and Moussa Sissoko until they’re back. Let’s try to speak everything about them today because I know you’re desperate to speak about them.”
Inevitably further pressed about the loss of Kane, Mourinho admitted that the striker’s absence would affect they way his side can line up over the next few months.
“We don’t have another one. There is not a striker in the squad. We have only one, he is not fit, we don’t have another one.
“You know that you cannot play like we normally play when Harry Kane is not in the team. The only thing I can tell you is that of course we cannot do the same way as with Harry.”
Despite having such a major absence, Mourinho was not drawn on questions about transfer targets that could provide the solutions in January.
AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli has already confirmed that Krzysztof Piatek is not travelling to London this weekend as previously reported by The Sun.
The Polish striker had been suggested as a potential replacement for Kane during the Englishman’s absence, but Mourinho insists he has not even presented a shortlist of targets to chairman Daniel Levy.
“No, no, no, this isn’t about a list of players. January is a strange market, it’s not an easy market to be in. It’s a market of opportunity a market where an opportunity arises and you have the conditions to do it or you not to do it.
“We have to be calm and not think about the market – let the market think about us.”
One transfer that Mourinho was in more of a mood to speak about was the potential departure of Kyle Walker-Peters to Crystal Palace.
Eagles boss Roy Hodgson has confirmed that the club are pushing to sign the England youth international, who would effectively be the replacement for Aaron Wan Bissaka, who left for Manchester United back in the summer.
Mourinho says he has not seen an official offer for Walker-Peters, but refused to deny the possibility of the transfer.
“If Mr Roy said that I am not going to deny. But I don’t know, of course I believe in him and if he believes that it is because Crystal Palace are trying to do it, working on it and I will wait for news coming from my boss.
“It is good to know that Mr Roy is open about it and doesn’t try to hide, so if they have that objective of course I will be informed by my people.”