Spurs must find a way without Kane
Without injured Kane, their midfield trio must rise to the occasion
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Tottenham Hotspur's early season gallop has slowed to a trot.
It's five games without a win now, a run no one saw coming when they outplayed Manchester City in a 2-0 home victory just a month ago.
An inability to score enough goals is costing them dear. A return of only three goals from their last five matches suggests where the problem lies.
It's Harry Kane's return they pine for, but they will have to wait for a while more.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino dashed the hopes of the White Hart Lane faithful yesterday, when he revealed that the England striker is not yet ready to resume action when Spurs host German outfit Bayer Leverkusen in a Champions League clash at Wembley tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
The "50 per cent" chance he had given Kane just a day earlier, of featuring against Leverkusen, had reduced to zero.
He told reporters: "Tomorrow, Harry will not be available, no. He will not be on the bench."
This is a big blow to a side who have not scored a goal in open play in four matches.
Kane, 23, hasn't featured since he hurt his ankle during the victory over Sunderland in mid-September.
Spurs' cutting edge deserted them when he left the pitch on a stretcher that day.
Last season's Premiership top scorer has supplied more than one-third of Spurs' goals (46 out of 127) in the last two Premier League campaigns.
However, it is not just his prolific output which the London club have been missing, but also his influence on the pitch.
Without his excellent link play with midfielders Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, in particular, the London outfit have had their wings clipped.
Spurs' performance in last week's 1-1 home draw with Leicester City summed up their displays over the past month, when a lack of creativity and slow build-up play in the final third of the field were glaring.
It hasn't helped that Kane's stand-in, Vincent Janssen, is struggling to adapt to a new league after making a £17-million ($28.9m) move from Dutch Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar.
His lack of sharpness in the penalty box doesn't bode well. His three goals in all competitions have all came from the penalty spot.
SOLDADO NO. 2?
Comparisons with Roberto Soldado, a recent Spurs flop, will intensify unless he improves dramatically.
The need to spread the goal-scoring responsibilities, and not just rely on the main striker, is not lost on Pochettino, who hinted after the draw with the Foxes that confidence in the camp is at a premium.
"It's not only our strikers," he said. "Our second line needs to score more and be more aggressive, to be more determined to score and not only to play well."
Son Heung Min, who looked so devastating in September when he thumped in five goals (in all competitions) over a period of less than three weeks, hasn't scored since. Alli has been guilty of missing too many chances and Eriksen's goals have simply dried up.
But it's early days still. They remain only three points off the Premier League summit and are second in their Champions League group, behind Monaco.
But a slip-up against Leverkusen tomorrow can prove disastrous and leave them playing catch-up with two fixtures to go in the group.
With a North London Derby against bitter rivals Arsenal coming up this Sunday, Spurs will be desperate to stop the rot.
But in Alli, Son and Eriksen, Pochettino has potentially one of the most formidable attacking midfield three in the EPL. He needs them to rise to the occasion.
It's time for Spurs to prove that they are not a one-man team.