Son Heung-min will have to be the man for all occasions as Spurs face run-in without prolific Harry Kane

As Tottenham Hotspur pursue a top-four finish, not to mention an FA Cup final place, doing so without the injured Kane will place a heavy burden on the South Korean with Vincent Janssen yet to prove he can fill the England striker's boots.

Tottenham's Son Heung-min celebrates with Vincent Janssen, left, after scoring his third goal during the English FA Cup quarter-final against Millwall at White Hart Lane  in London, Sunday, March 12, 2017. Matt Dunham / AP Photo
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The chant had been saved up for weeks, if not months. They were waiting for a special occasion. The fifth goal in a rout of a third-tier side sufficed. “Vincent Janssen, he scores when he wants,” was the chorus at White Hart Lane when, seven months after his debut, the Dutch forward finally mustered a goal that was not a penalty.

Tottenham Hotspur's 6-0 thrashing of Millwall was a tale of two strikers, the sidelined and the scorer, and a third who did a fine impersonation of a forward. Their biggest win of the season has the potential to prove the most damaging if Harry Kane's ankle injury means he is barely seen again in a Spurs shirt before August.

Janssen’s tally of one goal in 30 games in open play – admittedly two-thirds of his appearances have been from the bench – scarcely suggests he can do the job he was supposed to when Tottenham paid £17 million (Dh76m) to secure a deputy to Kane. It was a vote of no confidence from Mauricio Pochettino when, even against Millwall, he did not bring on Janssen for the stricken top scorer.


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Which suggests that, to a large extent, Tottenham’s fortunes may depend upon Son Heung-min, winger and willing worker, stand-in striker and Sunday’s hat-trick scorer. Before Kane left White Hart Lane on crutches and with his leg in a protective boot, Tottenham had started to look near-certainties for a top-four finish; his departure was a moment to give Arsenal and Manchester United renewed hope of catching Chelsea’s closest challengers.

Kane’s relentlessness can make him seem indestructible. His scoring feats mean he can camouflage Spurs’ striking failures in the transfer market. He rendered the ineffectual Roberto Soldado irrelevant, rather than positioning the Spaniard as the reason why ambitions went unrealised. Last season, Tottenham scored 95 goals. Kane was the only specialist striker to find the net.

Last Sunday, during the course of a Kane-inspired 3-2 win over Everton, Spurs fans’ mocking song was: “Just a one-season wonder.” Because Kane does not exude class at first glance, he was underestimated. He has scored 83 goals in three campaigns; but for two ankle injuries this season, he may have recorded a century.

His last spell out of the team, from September to November, was instructive. Tottenham produced one of the Premier League campaign’s outstanding performances, and Son thus one of the finest individual displays, when the South Korean inspired them to a 2-0 win against Manchester City.

Yet Tottenham only scored two goals in the last five games of Kane’s previous absence. They began by proving they could cope without him and ended up showing that they could not. Not for an extended period, anyway.

Now the fixture list offers the chance of a repeat. Spurs only face two of the top nine in their remaining league games. Yet those potentially destiny-defining games against Arsenal and United, plus the FA Cup semi-final and a possible final, all come in the season’s final weeks.

Perhaps, should the results of Kane’s scan allay their worst fears, he will be available. Or perhaps Son will continue to shoulder a huge burden. A player who asked to leave Tottenham last summer has been one of the transformative figures of their campaign, making crucial contributions off the bench, in attack, between the lines or, most often, veering infield from either flank to shoot.

Such is his impact in a variety of roles that he can feel the best squad player in the division. And while Pochettino pursues cohesion and consistency, finding a side and sticking with them to engineer chemistry, it is simplistic to say Tottenham only have a first XI. Instead, they have a core of about 16. But outside that linger men such as Janssen, Moussa Sissoko and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou, all expensive signings, all expected to add other dimensions going forward.

None have done. Kane, in alliance with the excellent Christian Eriksen and the irrepressible Dele Alli, has compensated. Yet one rolled ankle later, they look very reliant on Son.

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