Mauricio Pochettino has backed under-fire striker Vincent Janssen to succeed at Tottenham after being given a “wake-up” call in what has been a difficult adaptation period.
Janssen joined Spurs at the beginning of the season following a strong year at AZ Alkmaar, scoring 27 times in 34 Eredivisie matches, and he arrived with a burgeoning reputation.
But the 22-year-old has struggled to reproduce that form in English football, having scored just five times – with only one of those strikes coming from open play – in 25 appearances across all competitions.
Harry Kane’s recent ankle ligament injury looks set to keep the England star out of action for at least a month, meaning Janssen is likely to play a bigger role towards the end of the season, together with Son Heung-min.
And Pochettino is adamant that, although the forward is still adapting, Spurs are satisfied with Janssen’s progress and trust him to step up when needed following his first goal from open play in the FA Cup win over Millwall.
“We are happy with him,” Pochettino told reporters ahead of Sunday’s visit of Southampton. “It’s true that in some periods of the season his form was down.
“He needed a wake-up to be reminded that the possibility of playing could arrive. When you have a main striker like Harry Kane, it’s difficult for a second or third striker to take his place.
“He’s very young and came from Holland, a different league. The adaptation is difficult but he’s in the process to learn and improve. It’s only his first season in England.”
Pochettino insisted it is appropriate for Spurs to have a player like Janssen in reserve behind Kane, drawing parallels with the attacking resource available at other big clubs.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) March 17, 2017
“It’s easy to say we need better players on the bench behind Harry Kane, but it’s complicated for offensive players who are behind Diego Costa, Harry Kane, Alexis Sanchez or Zlatan Ibrahimovic at big teams.
“He is motivated and confident. He is feeling a little bit of relief as his first goal from open play and that is important. I am happy in the way that he trained this week too.
“It is true that we will miss Harry, as he is one of the best strikers in the world. But what can we do now?
“We can trust in the players that can replace him. We are fully confident in the squad and team, and we hope that we will win games and finish in a very good way.”
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