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By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Harry Kane scored his first Premier League goal in his first top-flight start as Tottenham beat Sunderland 5-1 at White Hart Lane last night.
Given that he first appeared for Tottenham in August 2011 and recently made his 20th first-team appearance against Benfica in Portugal, some would have been surprised to learn that Harry Kane was making his very first Premier League start last night.
The striker has been on the scene at White Hart Lane for a while and has come off the bench on five occasions in the top flight, but he has never really got his big break.
At the start of last season, Andre Villas-Boas said Kane would be his third-choice striker: “Kane is a young striker that we believe in and who we trust for the future,” he said. “Normally on my teams, I like to promote the third one as a young striker, who is competing for that place a bit more aggressively.”
Just a few weeks later, the young forward was loaned to Norwich. And, after making just five appearances for the Canaries between August and January, he spent the second half of the season with Leicester in the Championship.
At the start of this season, Kane saw his fellow youngster Andros Townsend shooting to fame with Tottenham and England.
And although the forward - who has played on the left, as a No10 and as a striker this season - impressed in the Capital One Cup victory over Hull at the Lane in October, scoring a fine equaliser, he was immediately returned to the bench.
Kane probably hoped he would get more chances when Tim Sherwood took the helm. But, instead, it was 19-year-old Nabil Bentaleb who was promoted, getting a sustained run in the side.
Before last night, Kane had made just seven appearances under the new boss – six of them as a substitute, all lasting less than 20 minutes.
But he finally got his big moment in the Premier League against Sunderland, starting up front with Emmanuel Adebayor and scoring in the 59th minute as Spurs came from behind to thump the Black Cats 5-1.
Kane’s critics may point out that it was a simple finish at close range and question whether he really has the killer instinct.
Indeed, when the striker got through on goal in the latter stages of the game, he shot straight at Vito Mannone, with Adebayor pouncing to double his tally for the night instead.
However, Kane is keen to point out that he is just 20 years old – a fact he feels is often forgotten – and he believes he is right on track in his development.
“Going on loan at 17 [to Leyton Orient], people didn’t realise how young I was,” he said. “People think I am a bit older but a first Premier League goal for Tottenham at 20 is not bad. Hopefully I can push on now.
“I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to get the start. It was great to get the goal and hopefully I can push on and get a few more.
“If you can do it in the Premier League you can do it pretty much anywhere. Hopefully I will get a few more chances and a few more goals. It’s great playing with Ade, he’s a world-class player and everyone can see that.
“The manager has told me to be patient, because my time will come. I’m happy here, it’s a great club and we’re a top team. We’ve got a great crop of youngsters coming through and we have got to make the most of that.”
The frustration for Tottenham is that their emphatic victory over Sunderland will probably mean very little in the grand scheme of the season – fourth place is still a distant and hugely unlikely dream.
However, the resulting lack of pressure – coupled with Roberto Soldado’s current absence through injury – has produced the ideal environment for Sherwood to give Kane a chance in the top flight, and the head coach has already confirmed that the young striker will be facing West Brom at The Hawthorns at the weekend.
“He was brilliant last night,” said Sherwood. “He’s been unlucky not to get more opportunities. To be honest I wanted to push him in. Now he’s got his opportunity and he took it with both hands. Get ready for Saturday Harry, because you’re playing.”
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