Harry Kane feels optimistic about his ankle injury and has joked about returning in less than a month, according to Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Spurs said on Tuesday the injury is considered less serious than the one Kane sustained in September, when he damaged the same ankle ligaments and was out for seven weeks.
Even if Kane is overly confident in hoping to return far sooner, his assessment suggests he could be back for next month’s north London derby against Arsenal on April 30 and may even feature in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea on April 22.
The cup clash at Wembley will come six weeks after Kane sustained the injury against Millwall last weekend.
“He is very positive, joking about (coming back) after the international break, three to four weeks,” Pochettino said.
“It’s good but we need to be careful with the injury. We trust completely our doctor and physios and that department who look after them in the best way.”
On Kane’s prediction, Pochettino added: “We don’t know. I express the feeling and the way we are doing on the training ground.
“He is very positive but don’t take it like properly my words because if not four, it’s five to six weeks. But the good thing he is very positive.
“If you are positive in your mind you can affect your injury positively.”
Kane has been left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for next week’s matches against Lithuania and Germany while Tottenham will have to do without their star striker against Southampton on Sunday.
They may also have to cope without their two first-choice full-backs at White Hart Lane, given the club have revealed Kyle Walker twisted his ankle on a day off at home on Monday. Danny Rose is still recovering from a knee problem.
Pochettino would not divulge the cause of Walker’s injury but said the defender had not trained this week and will have to be assessed. He is unlikely, however, to withdraw from the England squad.
Victor Wanyama is also struggling after enduring a “minor problem” against Millwall but Mousa Dembele, who missed the match with an ankle injury, is available. Erik Lamela remains sidelined with a hip injury.
Kane’s absence, however, is the biggest concern for Pochettino, given Tottenham endured their worst period of the season while the 23-year-old was out in September and October.
Vincent Janssen and Son Heung-min will be charged with filling the void.
“We hope things will be different this time but it was a different period, the team is different now. We are finding our best. The team is more solid,” Pochettino said.
“Today is a great chance for people like Son and Janssen to play more regularly in the starting XI. It’s a great chance for them.”
Son hit a hat-trick against Millwall last weekend while Janssen scored his first goal from open play since joining Spurs for Â£17.5million from AZ Alkmaar last summer.
Pochettino is backing both forwards to step up.
“When you have a striker like Harry Kane who scores and plays well it’s difficult for offensive players to play,” Pochettino said.
“Vincent is very young, came from Holland, a different league and the adaptation to the Premier League is always difficult. He is learning and improving, it’s only his first season in England.”
On Son, Pochettino added: “It is a big chance for him. The system we use in the last few months has not allowed him to play with maybe two or three strikers.
“But today Harry Kane is not available so he will have the chance to play more.”