Jose Mourinho refused to “play that game” as his media conference ahead of Tottenham’s clash with Newcastle United was dominated by questions about Harry Kane’s future.
Tottenham head into Sunday’s meeting at St James’ Park knowing they can ill-afford a slip-up against the relegation-threatened Magpies as they pursue a place in the Premier League’s top four and Champions League qualification.
Despite their position in the table – sixth, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea – talisman Kane, rather than a return to Europe’s elite club competition, was the primary topic of conversation as Mourinho spoke with reporters.
Kane is under contract until 2024 but has recently said he will not decide his future until after this year’s rescheduled European Championship, for which England are among the favourites.
He was on target in England’s wins over Albania and Poland as the Three Lions followed up an emphatic victory over San Marino to take maximum points from their opening 2022 World Cup qualifying fixtures.
Kane netted in his last game for Spurs, a 2-0 win at Aston Villa, and Mourinho is more interested in him replicating that display rather than any talk about a possible transfer.
“I cannot play that game,” he replied when asked about speculation surrounding Kane.
“I have to focus on what he is for us, of course I’m always pleased when my players go to national teams and they do well.
29 – Spurs forward Harry Kane has had the most shots following a ball carry in the Premier League this season (29). Inventive. pic.twitter.com/dRJI4TQ5od
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 1, 2021
“I’m happy he does well for England, but I cannot play that game of what the people say, doesn’t say. I focus on what he did for us in the last match against Villa, I focus on the effort that I saw him put on the pitch for England and I focus on the match against Newcastle, he will be there for the team and that’s where I have to focus.
“I don’t know if he always has a smile, I know that he is professional. I’m very pleased to have him and I repeat I’m happy to see him and all the other guys when they go to national teams, when they do well, come back after a positive result.
“He’s living a good period, he’s doing well for club and country. Ahead of him until the end of the season he has nice challenges, a [EFL Cup] final, a Premier League to fight for every point then he has a Euros with a possibility to play a final at Wembley. He has to be happy with the moment he’s living.
“I want Harry to be with us. I want Harry to repeat against Newcastle the same performance that he had against Aston Villa. The same commitment, same desire, same team spirit, leadership, that’s what I want. I know that I’m going to have that.”
Kane will likely have Son Heung-min back for company on Spurs’ forward line against Newcastle, Mourinho confirming the South Korea star is fit enough to be selected having not played since sustaining a thigh injury in the North London derby defeat to Arsenal on March 14.
“[Son] is good. He will be selected. He was injured, he trained with the team fully for the first time this morning,” added Mourinho.
“Yesterday he was coming to do partial exercises, not a complete session. This morning was the first day he did it. Last week he didn’t train at all, it was impossible for him to play international. It would be impossible if the game was yesterday.
“This time was a good time for him to recover from injury. In this moment we have [Matt] Doherty and Ben Davies out, apart from that, everyone is fit to play.”
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