Tottenham's Harry Kane confident of early return - Mauricio Pochettino
LONDON -- Harry Kane is confident he will return from injury ahead of schedule, according to Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Kane suffered damage to his right ankle ligament in the FA Cup quarterfinal against Millwall on Sunday but a scan this week revealed it is not as serious as the injury that kept him out for seven weeks and 10 matches in autumn.
"We need to assess him day-by-day. He's very positive, he's always joking about [being fit] after the international break or in three or four weeks, I don't know," Pochettino told a news conference on Friday.
"He's very positive and that is good, but at the same time we need to be careful with his injury. We trust completely in our doctor and physios and department that looks after them in the best way. We'll see but we hope that yes, as soon as possible he will be available again."
The 23-year-old will definitely miss the league matches against Southampton, Burnley and Swansea City, plus England's friendly in Germany on March 22 and the home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania four days later.
But if he returns in a month, he could play against Bournemouth on April 15 -- one week before the FA Cup semifinal against Chelsea, which has been arranged for Saturday April 22.
"I only express the feeling and the way that we are doing on the training ground," Pochettino added. "He's very positive. But you know maybe if it's not four weeks it's five weeks or six weeks. The good thing is he's very positive and if you're positive in your mind you can affect in a very positive way your injury."
The last time Kane was injured, Spurs went six matches without a win, scoring only once from open play, but Pochettino insisted they have improved since then.
"We hope things will be different but it was a different period, the team is different now," he said. "We are finding our best. The team is more solid. We have improved a lot from that period -- it was a very difficult preseason after the European Championship. Today is a completely different period, we are at a completely different level."
"The same period we had at the start of the season was difficult, we lost Harry Kane for seven or eight weeks, and one of the best performances was against Manchester City -- 2-0 at home without Kane. It's about the team. We have good players who sometimes deserve to play. Today is a great chance for people like Son [Heung-Min] and Vincent Janssen to play more regularly in the starting XI."
Mousa Dembele is available for Sunday's match against Southampton at White Hart Lane after the midfielder missed the 6-0 win over Millwall with an ankle injury but Erik Lamela (hip) and Danny Rose (knee) are still out, and Kyle Walker (ankle) and Victor Wanyama (neck) are doubts.
Wanyama hurt his neck against Millwall, while Walker was injured at home and Pochettino said that the club was yet to take a decision on whether he could play on at the weekend or in the upcoming England internationals.
"It is a private matter," Pochettino said of the England right-back. "After the day off on Monday he arrived on Tuesday with a problem in his ankle, and he couldn't train during the week. We need to assess tomorrow, we'll see if he is available."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.