Time Has Come for Harry Kane to Seize His Chance at Tottenham Hotspur

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Time Has Come for Harry Kane to Seize His Chance at Tottenham Hotspur
Kirsty Wigglesworth
Harry Kane was just about flying after scoring his first Premier League goal for Tottenham Hotspur this past Monday.

Harry Kane certainly made the most of his first Premier League start for Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.

His 59th-minute, close-range goal (also his first in the top flight) was well-taken and put his team in front against Sunderland. Kane's manager, Tim Sherwood, was effusive in his praise of the striker's all-round performance in the 5-1 win when speaking with the club's official website:

The front players were fluid, popping up in different areas of the field, difficult to mark and the main reason for that, for me, was Harry Kane. I thought he was fantastic. He ran his heart out, stretched Sunderland and created space for the likes of Christian [Eriksen] and Azza [Aaron Lennon] to get into the pockets.

Kane's team-mates were similarly pleased, taking to social media to praise the goalscorer:

Townsend's reference to his fellow youth-team product's work in training is in keeping with Kane's advancement on the pitch this past year.

The 20-year-old has made notable progress in his fourth season proper in professional football. While still having considerable leeway to mature and develop as a player, Kane has also been granted an opportunity to now firmly seize his chance at Spurs.

Dan Istitene/Getty Images
A 17-year-old Kane on loan at Leyton Orient in early 2011.

The numbers situation in the Spurs attack is undoubtedly working in Kane's favour. The departure of Jermain Defoe to Toronto has left just the Englishman, Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado as the club's recognised senior strikers.

Changes may be in store in this department for the summer—an additional striker perhaps, while Soldado's future remains most uncertain.

Yet with five possible further playing opportunities before thenand Soldado's injury status also unclear at the time of writingKane has the advantage in staking his claim for a starting place next season, regardless of who is managing Spurs.

It has been no happy accident that the England youth player has gotten to this point.

Identified as an emerging talent at Spurs, Kane has been through differing, but similarly valuable experiences on loan. He scored five times with Leyton Orient as a 17-year-old in 2011-12, and then nine times with Millwall a year later—winning the Lions' Young Player of the Year award in the process.

Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Kane in action for the England Under-21s in 2013.

His first Premier League experiences with Norwich City were disrupted by injury and subsequently ended early. A second spell in the Championship with Leicester City proved less productive than his first.

Interspersed among these were first-team forays with Tottenhamnotably in the Europa League in 2011, including a first goal against Shamrock Roversand confidence-building international excursionshe was one of England's better performers at the 2013 Under-20 World Cup.

By the start of the current campaign, he made it clear he was ready for the next step.

"Harry has been patient, waited for his opportunity, he’s got stronger around his body and has more game know-how," Sherwood—well familiar with Kane from his previous roles working with the club's young players—told the club's website.

"He decided he didn’t want to go out on loan when Andre [Villas-Boas] was here, he wanted to stay and fight for his place and he made a great decision."

Kane played well in pre-season, recovering from a missed chance to score in the 5-2 loss to Monaco. Early in the campaign proper, he made quietly impressive appearances against Dinamo Tbilisi, Cardiff City and Aston Villa.

Alastair Grant
Kane scores Spurs' equaliser against Hull City in the Capital One Cup.

Had Adebayor not fallen out with Villas-Boas, Kane might not have seen as much involvement. He did, however, and against Hull City in the Capital One Cup, Kane put in his most encouraging performance in a Spurs shirt yet.

After the crossbar denied him from scoring a 78th-minute winner from long range, Kane scored his first goal at White Hart Lane in extra time after Hull had taken the lead.

Receiving the ball from Defoe with his back to goal, he turned Paul McShane and dribbled to a satisfactory angle, proceeding to place his shot in the bottom corner. Scoring too in Spurs' penalty shootout victory, it was a good night for the striker.

Injury hurt his chance of featuring much in the last days of Villas-Boas' reign. Initially under Sherwood, Kane had to live with sporadic chances too, playing with the Under-21s to stay match-fitscoring eight times in eight appearances this season.

The turning point was another attempted substitute salvage job in cup competition.

Kane came off the bench to set up Nacer Chadli twice in Spurs' ultimately unsuccessful attempt to rescue their Europa League tie with Benfica. He also might have had a game-changing penalty late on.

The display—along with the patchy form of Soldado since then—evidently convinced Sherwood the time was right to try Kane from the start of a game.

Sang Tan
Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood could be set to give Kane further chances before the end of the season.

"He’s been unlucky not to get more opportunities," Sherwood told the Tottenham & Wood Green Journal's Ben Pearce. "To be honest I wanted to push him in, now he’s got his opportunity and he took it with both hands."

Having repaid his manager's faith against Sunderland, Kane told Pearce he believes he can build from here:

Going on loan at 17, people didn’t realise how young I was. 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.

Ian Walton/Getty Images
Kane's goal against Sunderland was well-taken, but his finishing can still be improved.

Kane is not yet the finished article. His goalscoring instincts are strong, but his finishing needs further refining. That much was demonstrated by the shot that squirmed past Sunderland's Vito Mannone. It still allowed Adebayor to tap in Spurs' fourth goal, but Kane will have been disappointed not to score himself.

Improvements here would likely come with further playing time. The last significant question to be answered by Kane, then, will be how he fares regularly against top defensive opposition.

It may be Kane's time to seize his chance, but it is also Tottenham's to find out just how good he might be for them.

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