Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane may have to consider surgery on his injured ankle, a leading surgeon has said.
Kane suffered a “significant lateral ligament” injury in his left ankle during Spurs’ 1-0 Champions League win over Manchester City and, although the club have yet to put a timescale on his return, he is unlikely to play again this season.
The Three Lions skipper is susceptible to ankle ligament damage as this is his fifth such injury since 2016 and the second to his left joint this year.
Surgeon Mark Davies, a leading specialist at the London Foot and Ankle Centre who has operated on Premier League footballers, says that going under the knife could help restore the strength of Kane’s ligament to what it was before his first injury.
“At some point I think they would think about doing something surgically to stabilise the ligament, which is quite feasible and should restore the problem happening in the long term,” Mr Davies told Press Association Sport.
“I would certainly talk to him about the what advantages of having surgery would have.
“If he wasn’t playing football and he wasn’t going over on it then I wouldn’t do anything about it but every time you turn your ankle you run the risk of lateral ligament damage in the ankle.
“He’s not that old, he could do with a stable ankle if he wants to carry on playing long term without it happening again.
“It is a routine operation because the ligament needs to be tightened up and that is fairly easy.
“If he were to have surgery, the surgeon would almost certainly use an internal brace, which is a device which you put over the ligament repair and it is incredibly strong.
“It means you are not just relying on scar tissue regaining strength so it would improve his chances of coming back.
“Nobody is immune to spraining an ankle, you can have the strongest ligament in the world and if you subject it to enough force it would sprain, but you should restore it to pre-injury levels of stability.”
The surgery would put Kane out of action for around three months, which may not be much longer than he could be expected to be out anyway.
The England striker does have impressive powers of recovery, though, as he returned to action two weeks quicker than expected earlier this year and is targeting a return to fitness for a possible Champions League final and UEFA Nations League semi-final in June.
Davies, who has operated on Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea players in the past, says Kane’s quick recovery rates have not made him more susceptible, neither has a full on schedule which has barely seen him get any rest over the past few summers.
“There is no merit in him having an extended rest, they are not sending him back too early, it’s just that he has got an unstable ankle,” Davies added.
“When you suffer that injury, the ligament doesn’t get as strong, so the slacker and slacker it is going to get, the more frequently it is going to happen.
“They do get him back very quickly, but they wouldn’t send him out if he wasn’t ready.”
The Blues’ 2-0 win at Anfield in April 2014 derailed Liverpool’s title tilt, paving the way for Manchester City to snatch the league crown.
Steven Gerrard’s slip gifted Demba Ba the first goal – Willian scored the decisive second – to end Liverpool’s 16-match unbeaten streak in a defeat that floored Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Liverpool are once more close to that elusive first title since 1990, but again City will push the Reds to the death – and Spain defender Azpilicueta believes the Blues can also dash Anfield hopes.
“It was a few years ago, but we went there and they had the party ready because they were smashing every team at Anfield,” said Azpilicueta.
“We arrived with a very clear idea, and we produced the game we had to at that moment to beat that team that was getting very good results.
“So to beat them 2-0 was very important, an important win for the club and the fans.
“We enjoyed that day and hopefully we can replicate it on Sunday. It’s not about frustrating Liverpool, it’s about playing our game.
“We know they are fighting for the title but for us every point is very important for the top four. It’s an important game.
“We know we’re going to play a very strong side, but first of all we need to keep the solidity that we’ve shown in the last games, and defend very well as a team because they are a big threat.
“And if we take our chances, I think we’ve proved ourselves already this season when we won (2-1) in the League Cup (in August). I think it’s a big game, and everyone’s looking forward to it.”
Chelsea scraped past Slavia Prague 1-0 in Thursday night’s Europa League quarter-final first leg at the Sinobo Stadium, with Marcos Alonso nodding home Willian’s cross in the closing stages.
Spain goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga pulled off a string of fine saves to deny the gutsy hosts, setting up Chelsea to complete the job at Stamford Bridge next week and reach the semi-finals.
Azpilicueta hailed Chelsea’s £71million record signing for quickly shaking off the League Cup final storm of refusing to be substituted.
Kepa defied manager Maurizio Sarri’s orders to stay on the field, only for Chelsea to lose the penalty shootout 4-3 to City.
The 24-year-old was eventually fined a week’s wages for that insubordination, raising fears for his Stamford Bridge future.
But after his commanding display in Prague, Azpilicueta believes Kepa has banished any lingering doubts about his Blues career.
Asked if Kepa’s showing on Thursday means all is forgiven, Azpilicueta said: “Yes, it’s really important for Kepa, it’s his first year in England, his first season here.
“Sometimes it has been frustrating for him because he couldn’t do anything to avoid a goal.
“He had one job to do and he did it very well.
“That’s three clean sheets in a row and it’s very important for us to be solid. We know that when we are in the Europa League quarter-finals every game is going to be difficult.”
Each week, Sport360 will bring you tips for the English Premier League’s official fantasy football game. Fancy pitting your wits against us? You can join “Sport360 Fans League” using the code 2326997-532303.
Fantasy Premier League managers are likely contemplating using their Wildcards for Gameweek 34 in preparation for Double Gameweek 35.
Brighton and Cardiff City meanwhile have two fixtures each in GW34 so their assets definitely come into play. The Seagulls are particularly key as they play twice in DGW35 as well.
Liverpool and Chelsea play each other in this round while Tottenham, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal have easier fixtures in GW34 and have the advantage of featuring twice in DGW35, putting their assets in high demand.
CAPTAIN – SON HEUNG-MIN | TOTTENHAM | 11.1M
Eden Hazard was our captain pick for Blank Gamweek 33 and he delivered handsomely with a fine brace at home to West Ham seeing him score 16 points which doubled to 32.
This time, we’re turning to the in-form Son Heung-min for the armband. Harry Kane injured himself in the Champions League clash with Manchester City in midweek while the South Korean scored the only goal of the game.
Son has thrived earlier in the season when Kane was sidelined through injury and should be the main man in attack for Mauricio Pochettino’s side again. The midfielder scored against Crystal Palace last week as well and face a relegated Huddersfield side at home who can’t help but concede goals.
SHANE DUFFY (4.7m) doesn’t qualify as a bold option this week because captaining him in GW34 actually makes a lot of sense. Not only does he have two attractive fixtures at home in this round and is likely to pick up cleansheet points, but the centre-back also poses a genuine goal threat. Duffy has already scored five goals this season and is second among defenders for shots inside the box this season.
JAMIE VARDY (9.2m) is one of the most in-form players in the league at the moment and faces Newcastle United at home. He’s scored in six of his last eight outings including two braces over the last four.
VICTOR CAMARASA (4.5m) has trips to Burnley and Brighton in this GW and playing as a No10 for Cardiff, he boasts good potential for attacking returns. The midfielder has scored twice in the last three games.
TWO TO WATCH
KEVIN DE BRUYNE | MANCHESTER CITY | 9.7M
With Pep Guardiola benching him for the Champions League clash with Tottenham in midweek, Kevin De Bruyne is nailed on to start away to Crystal Palace. The Belgian has been steadily getting back into the groove having endured an injury-ravaged season, scoring against Cardiff in City’s last league game. Could the midfielder prove to be key in their run-in for the league title?
ABDOULAYE DOUCOURE | WATFORD | 5.9M
Watford’s change in formation lately has seen Abdoulaye Doucoure thrive in an attacking midfield role in behind the two forwards. The Frenchman has scored in each of the last two games against United and Fulham. The Hornets face Arsenal at home this weekend, who have leaked goals on the road, before playing twice in DGW35 against Huddersfield and Southampton. At an ownership of just 1.9 per cent, Doucoure qualifies as a differential as well.