England captain Harry Kane has brushed aside concerns over his workload, insisting his early season statistics are nothing to worry about.
That Kane found himself facing questions over his mental and physical freshness on the eve of Spain’s Nations League visit to Wembley today (7.45pm, live on Sky Sports) was perhaps puzzling; he will, after all, be collecting the World Cup Golden Boot before kick-off and has already netted twice in four games this term.
But there are wider worries about the burden he carries for club and country, both of whom treat him as indispensable, and how it is shaping his game.
Six goals in Russia were enough to net him his newest glittering award but he failed to find the net in his final three games of the tournament and he has been more shot-shy than usual since returning to Premier League action.
The 25-year-old has made just 10 attempts on goal in four outings, half Sergio Aguero’s number and three shy of Tottenham team-mate Christian Eriksen.
Kane, who will mark his achievements in Russia by wearing a specially commissioned pair of golden boots against Spain, reads little into those figures beyond the fact that he may simply have become more efficient in front of goal.
“People are looking as if I’ve changed my game but I’ve scored the same number as after four games last season. Maybe I’ve become a better finisher,” he said.
“Whether it’s 10 shots or 28 shots, I’ve scored the same number. And I’ve scored in two games rather than one.”
“There are always little things that people pick out of your game but I feel good, I feel sharp. That’s what important.” Despite that self-assurance, Kane remains hungry to get even better and has been able to make a refreshingly honest assessment of his efforts in the summer.
“I think I could have done better at the World Cup if I’m perfectly honest,” he explained.
“It was great, I scored some good goals and important goals but there was stuff I could have done better as well…certain finishes, certain movements.
“To win the Golden Boot at the World Cup and feel like I could have done better is exciting. There’s a lot of improvement (to go) and I’m at a high level already.”
Tottenham have rarely found themselves able to voluntarily take their key player out of the firing line, with his nominal stand-ins Vincent Janssen and Fernando Llorente seemingly unable to match his level.
Kane has not ruled out the possibility of a mid-season rest at some stage, though, and feels Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is open to the prospect.
“The manager is very good at managing that throughout the season,” he said.
“I feel fine now, everyone’s fresh, but there might be stages in the season where you have a dip.
“That’s where the manager comes in and you might get a few days’ break, or rested for a game.”
Kane will exchange pre-match pleasantries with Spain skipper Sergio Ramos before the match but that is likely to be the end of cordial relations for the evening, given the Real Madrid defender’s uncompromising style. He memorably brought an early end to Mohamed Salah’s participation in the Champions League final after a tussle between the pair left the Liverpool forward with a shoulder injury.
Kane has not sought Reds captain Jordan Henderson’s assessment of the incident but knows already what awaits him when taking on the vastly experienced campaigner.
“Ramos is a competitive player. A great, great defender on and off the ball. We played against him last year against Madrid. He’s a tough centre-half. He wasn’t over the top, he didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. He tests the boundaries, but that’s what the referees are there for.”