Harry Kane is a young player who Tottenham supporters have known about for a long time due to his goalscoring feats with the Spurs Academy teams, his periods on loan at lower League clubs, the occasional appearance for the fist team in Europa League and Cup matches and his progression through the England under-age teams. Still only 20 years of age, what are Tottenham to do with him?
Harry Kane scored a hat-trick against San Marino on his first start for the England Under-21 team on Friday evening. He will be hoping that his goals will ensure a starting place in Gareth Southgate’s team for the game against Lithuania at Ipswich. He is also part of the Tottenham squad and played for an hour in the Cup match against Aston Villa, impressing with his all-round performance. For a young player he wasn’t daunted by playing alongside all the new players brought in to the club at record breaking fees. He has always had a confidence about his play which was evident even in his debut against Hearts in the 2nd leg of the Europa League tie in August, 2011.
Reporting on that match against Hearts, I wrote,
Tottenham’s opening attempt on goal saw Roman Pavlyuchenko bring a save from the Hearts keeper following good work from Harry Kane. The young striker had brought the ball across the edge of the penalty and was just preparing to shoot when Pavlyuchenko pulled rank and fired in the shot. A further run from Kane brought a shot across goal and then came his big moment. He received a lovely pass from Tom Carroll in the penalty area and when the goalkeeper brought him down the referee awarded a penalty. Kane stepped up to take it himself but his shot was saved as McDonald dived to his right. I hope in years to come young Mr Kane will not be thinking, ‘If only.’
Kane was one of 6 young players who made an appearance in that inexperienced team that night, including Tom Carroll, Andros Townsend, Jake Livermore, Ryan Fredericks and Jake Nicholson. Commenting on Kane’s contribution, I said,
Harry Kane was the player many were wanting to see, having heard good reports of his goal scoring for youth and Spurs XI sides. In his debut, he worked hard and showed a willingness to cover back to help in defence. Even in the final minutes of added time he came back to help out and having won the ball in the penalty area, he set off up the field. He had little support from Pavlyuchenko and few chances on goal. He created more for Pavlyuchenko than the Russian international did for him. He seems willing to learn as he showed early in the game. Corluka bawled him out for not moving onto a through ball but after that he made himself available with runs into space to receive the pass and from one he got behind the defence to shoot across goal. He also looked to Cudicini for guidance when he went back in defence to defend at a corner, ascertaining where the keeper wanted him to stand for his defensive duties. After that at every free-kick and corner he took up his delegated position. He should benefit from this experience and be stronger the next time.
His next appearance was in a very young team which played PAOK Salonika in the Europa League in Greece. Kane again performed well and should have had a penalty awarded when brought down in the area but the referee incorrectly booked him for diving. When Kane plays, he’s involved in the game, he’s never just making up the numbers.
Before his debut for Spurs Kane had already played in the Football League with Leyton Orient at the age of 17, making 18 appearances and scoring 5 goals. He played 6 Europa League games that season and scored his first senior goal for Spurs against Shamrock Rovers in Dublin. Then followed 27 appearances and 9 goals for Millwall in the Championship and FA Cup during the second half of the season. Last season he made his Premier League debut as a late substitute in the opening game against Newcastle and went out on loan to Norwich City. An injury brought that to a premature end and on recovering he went to Leicester where he scored 2 goals in 15 appearances and helped them reach the play-offs.
On the international front Kane progressed to the Under-19 team, scoring 6 goals in 14 appearances, playing in the European Under-19 Championships in the summer of 2012. In the past summer, he played in the Under-20 World Cup Finals, scoring once in 3 games. Now, he has stepped up to Under-21 level and again has performed at the higher level.
Not an out-and-out striker, Kane has often played from a deeper lying role where he works hard for the team both defensively and creatively, carrying the ball from his own half with the ability to strike at goal.
When Kane has played for the Tottenham Under-21 side, it is clearly evident from his play and goals that he has progressed beyond that level. In the last season’s Final at Old Trafford, particularly in the first half he caused many problems for the United defence with a strike hitting the post and creating the send goal as Spurs went two up. The UnitedTV commentators were praising him without realising that he still only 19 years of age. This season he played two Under-21 games and scored 4 goals including a hat-trick against Manchester City. Kane needs experience at a higher level than this.
First Team Opportunities
Kane is very much a member of the first team squad for Spurs and AVB has shown confidence in his young player, knowing that he won’t let him down. This season he played the final twenty minutes in Tbilisi and was a half-time substitute for the return game at White Hart Lane. With 8 minutes to play at Cardiff and the game still scoreless, Kane was brought on and played his part in bringing some new vitality to the Spurs game which was being worn down by the home team’s dogged resistance. He then started against Aston Villa in the Cup game and contributed to the team’s success, playing for over 70 minutes. It’s small steps for Kane at Tottenham as he builds up his experience.
Having been away from White hart Lane for most of last season through injury and being on loan it is of benefit for Kane to spend time training under AVB. He will learn from the experienced international class players at Spurs and grow as a player through his involvement with the team.
Tottenham, however, are faced with a dilemma – what is Kane’s best position and how to continue the development and progress that he has made over the past years at the club. Every time Kane has stepped up to a new level, he has delivered, producing performances belying his age and experience.
With the goals that Kane scored as a youth team player, he was thought of, by fans, as a striker but there is more to his game than just goals. He works hard, does a great deal of running putting defenders under pressure and can drop deep to win the ball and set off on powerful forward runs to create a goalscoring chance for himself or other team mates. He can play this type of game from left of midfield, cutting in towards goal when the opportunity presents itself.
Kane will continue to play a marginal role at Tottenham. There too many other internationals waiting their opportunity so he will remain a bit-part player who will try to make the most of any games he is selected for. Ideally, for him to develop and show to what he can achieve, he needs more match-time and to be playing week in, week out. To get that he needs a loan period in the Premier League with a team where he will be guaranteed to start every week but that is never certain when a young player goes on loan.
Harry Kane has made remarkable progress at such an early age. It’s very hard for a young player to get noticed and make a lasting impression at a big club like Spurs. Reflecting on his own difficulties as a young player with Tottenham, John Bostock said in the article in The Mirror,
I guess that is the nature of being at one of the biggest clubs in Europe. Especially now as Tottenham are investing in lot of players. It’s natural for a club to bring in that type of player if they are pushing for the league and the Champions League. It is difficult for young players coming through academies. Not just at Spurs, but at other clubs.