‘If he has one leg he has to play!’ – Antonio Conte won’t do without Harry Kane

Antonio Conte and Harry Kane
(Image credit: Adam Davy)

Antonio Conte joked that Harry Kane would start for Tottenham at Burnley even if he had only one leg.

The England captain suffered a knock to his back during Saturday’s impressive 3-2 win at Manchester City, where he put in a dazzling display, scoring two goals and having a hand in the other.

Kane’s importance to the Spurs side is obvious, even without considering they have no back-up striker, and Conte tapped into his humour to make the point.

“He had a hit in his back but he has to play!” the Italian said. “If he has one leg he has to play.

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“Harry knows very well the importance he has on the squad for his personality, for his experience. But he is good.

“I am joking, I don’t force a player if he is injured to play. I only say to tell you the importance of the player. He is good, he is ready.”

The 28-year-old, who tried to leave his boyhood club in the summer amid frustration at a lack of progress, has taken to working under Conte and has begun to regain the form that has made him one of the most prolific frontmen in the Premier League.

Asked about how crucial Kane is, Conte recalled a quote from an old friend in Italy.

He quipped: “There is a sporting director in Italy, my friend, whose name is Pantaleo Corvino. He says, ‘You can make mistake about your wife but not about the striker’.

“You understand? For me that is the best quote that I understand in football, no? You can make a mistake about your wife but not mistakes about your striker.”

While Kane is delivering at the top of his game now, Ryan Sessegnon has been billed as one for the future.

The 21-year-old has had a tough time since joining in 2019 from Fulham and was substituted in the first half of the recent defeat to Wolves, but Conte played him against City and has tipped him to win England caps.

“Sess, in my vision, has all the possibility to become an important player,” the Spurs boss said. “First of all he is young and has in front of him a lot of years.

Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Ryan Sessegnon, right, has been tipped to become a key man for club and country by Conte (John Walton/PA)

“He is strong physically and fast, has a good engine, a resilience. He has good quality.

“Sometimes I think he feels a bit of pressure. But with me he played important games, against Liverpool, against Chelsea, against City. It means I trust him.

“If you remember in the last game I changed the system, but only for this (reason) I took him off after 30 minutes. I explained it was a tactical situation.

“But we are talking about another player that if he works and you have patience to work with him he is another player that can become an important player, also for England, the national team. But the first person that has to be convinced is himself.”

Oliver Skipp (groin) and Japhet Tanganga (knee) are out while Sergio Reguilon (coronavirus) is a doubt.

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