LONDON (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino urged caution with striker Harry Kane during the international break after his side signed off by scraping a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Kane needed treatment on his ankle and was eventually substituted after the interval in his side’s win at Wembley which moved Tottenham level on points with second-placed Manchester United in the Premier League.
While Kane did not appear to have a serious problem but Pochettino, who was without injured midfielder Dele Alli, French keeper Hugo Lloris and Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld, appeared worried by the demands on the England hitman.
Alli was pulled out of England’s squad for the upcoming friendlies against Germany and Brazil while midfielder Harry Winks is also a doubt after turning his ankle against Palace and being substituted at halftime.
With a north London derby against Arsenal looming, Pochettino said he hoped England manager Gareth Southgate would go easy on Tottenham’s leading striker.
“It’s a difficult situation for everyone,” Pochettino told reporters. “For us, we are focusing on our problems and our injuries but I also understand completely what the national team wants and needs.
“The most important thing is that the national teams, including England, understand the needs of our players and help them so they will be fit when they return here,” he added.
“All you can do is have good communication and explain the situation of everyone and then trust them. I subbed (Kane) to protect him after Real Madrid last Wednesday. It was such an emotional game and it is better to avoid a risk.”
Kane returned for the 3-1 Champions League win over Real Madrid having missed last weekend’s defeat at Manchester United with a hamstring strain.
Winks looks unlikely to join up with the national squad.
“He twisted his ankle and, at the moment, it is extremely painful,” Pochettino said. “We must assess him with our medical staff and that of the national team.
“He is so excited to make the national team and I am sure he wants to make it. But it is up to the medical people.”
Tottenham were not at their best but claimed three valuable points thanks to Son Heung-min’s 64th minute curler.
Pochettino said the victory had been ‘massive’.
“We can talk about different things but after a few difficult circumstances the answer was fantastic from the squad,” Pochettino said. “That pleased me the most.”
“When you play a game like Real Madrid there is always danger, you have to be focused and the performance was so professional from the team.”
Defeat left Palace with four points from 11 games but they impressed against Tottenham and created the game’s best chances.
“I would have settled for playing much worse and having a bit of good fortune where a ball deflects past the goalkeeper, or the referee awards us a penalty which is not a penalty,” manager Roy Hodgson said.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar