Tottenham's Harry Kane out of Man United clash with hamstring strain
LONDON -- Harry Kane has been ruled out of Tottenham's match at Manchester United on Saturday with a minor hamstring strain sustained against Liverpool last weekend.
Kane was replaced for the final two minutes of the 4-1 win at Wembley, clutching his left hamstring, but afterwards Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino insisted he was "just tired."
But Kane missed Wednesday's 3-2 defeat to West Ham in the Carabao Cup and he is now out of the match at Old Trafford.
Pochettino told his prematch news conference on Friday: "For tomorrow, we cannot take a risk. It's a minor injury, very small, but we cannot take a risk. We'll see after for Wednesday against Real Madrid. Tomorrow, it's impossible."
Spurs are level on points with second-placed United but they will be considerably weaker without Premier League top scorer Kane, who already has eight goals in nine league appearances and 13 in 12 for Spurs so far this term.
Asked if the injury was a major blow for his team, Pochettino added: "Yes, you always want all the players available. It's a problem. We want them available to play.
"We always believe in the collective, the squad. During the season, problems happen and you must trust all the players, all the squad. I told the players are not machines and its so difficult to cope with international duty, play every three days. It's lucky it's not a big problem but he's not going to play tomorrow."
Pochettino said he would not make a decision on what formation to field in Kane's absence against Jose Mourinho's side until the morning of the match.
"Today is the second day after West Ham game so it's difficult," he said. "We need to wait until tomorrow to decide the formation. We can use different formations, we worked a lot on it in preseason. The players can adapt to one or another shape. We need to assess everyone and make a decision to be competitive.
"United have one day more rest, an advantage, to prepare. We're on the limit and it's so important because after we play Real Madrid on Wednesday and finish against [Crystal] Palace at Wembley.
Spurs were unbeaten in eight league matches last season without Kane, who twice suffered ankle ligament damage, but Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has described them as "the Harry Kane team" this season.
Pochettino added: "We don't need to prove that we're Tottenham. Maybe people expect that but for us, no!
"Last season, in the period he was injured, you can see the stats, the games we played. We didn't lose with Harry or without Harry. Of course, I'm not happy, I'm disappointed because Harry is our main striker and one of the best players in the world, one of the best strikers in the world. You're always going to miss your best striker. I'm not stupid. That is football."
And Pochettino took aim at BBC "Match of the Day" pundits Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, who criticised him for replacing Kane in the 87th-minute of Spurs' 4-0 win at Huddersfield, when he was on a hat trick.
"A few games ago, 10 minutes before the end, against Huddersfield at 4-0, I said, 'You must rest because you're going to play two games on international duty!' He said, 'But gaffer, why I'm not playing the last 10 minutes when I scored two.' I said you need to rest, you're not a machine, blah blah...
"Some people say, 'If I was Harry Kane, I'd go to see the gaffer and complain, I want a hat trick, I'm competing with [Sergio] Aguero, [Romelu] Lukaku.' That adds more pressure to a player!
"It's so difficult to make everyone happy. And then when something happens, who suffers? The player, the team and in the end us! Because we're going to miss one of our best players. But I won't complain, I'm so happy in the job. Carpe diem."
Pochettino added that he had no issue with his friend Jose Mourinho after suggesting in his book that Man United had tapped up Eric Dier two seasons ago.
"It's a thing that is in the past and I was honest in the book," he said. "My relationship with him [Mourinho] is very good, we're in contact. That is only describing one, small situation which is not to put a headline in the newspapers. There's nothing wrong, I only described a situation in the past. It's not an issue."
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.