‘Devastated’ Son ready to play part for Spurs in Belgrade

Despite impact of Gomes injury at Everton distraught Son ready to play, says Pochettino

A distraught  Son Heung-min reacts after tackling Everton’s André  Gomes which left the Everton player with a serious ankle injury. Photograph: EPA

A distraught Son Heung-min reacts after tackling Everton’s André Gomes which left the Everton player with a serious ankle injury. Photograph: EPA

 

Group B

Red Star Belgrade v Tottenham
Rajko Mitic Stadium, 8pm
BT Sport 2, Virgin Media

Harry Kane could not bear to look at the time and, in the stomach-churning aftermath of André Gomes’s horrible injury, the Tottenham striker has deliberately avoided all footage and any photographs. This is what it is like when a member of the footballing fraternity is so stricken. A part of every player knows it could have been them and an element of self-preservation kicks in.

“I watched it on Sky,” said Kane, having missed the 1-1 draw at Everton on Sunday because of illness. “I don’t think they showed the replay anyway. But I’ve tried not to watch any replays [subsequently] look at any pictures. When you’re a fellow professional it’s the last thing you want to be watching.”

Gomes suffered a fractured dislocation of the right ankle after Son Heung-min tripped him in the 79th minute. It was an innocuous if cynical foul but the Everton midfielder got his studs caught underneath him and those in the vicinity will never be able to unsee what happened when he then crashed into Serge Aurier.

Son was shown a red card, mainly because of the damage to Gomes that his action had led to and there was a significant development on Tuesday evening when the dismissal was overturned on appeal.

Son will not now miss the next three Premier League matches, leaving Mauricio Pochettino to claim that justice had been done, even if the Spurs manager lamented how rescinding the card would not bring back the two dropped points. Pochettino claimed Spurs had been in charge with 11 men. With 10 they conceded a last-gasp equaliser.

What Kane wanted to make plain was that everyone at Spurs wished Gomes as speedy a recovery as possible. “It looked horrendous and I wish André and his family the best of luck,” said Kane.

Yet Kane and the staff at Spurs have had to face up to a subsidiary issue, which is the mental state of Son and Aurier, who have been scorched by a fallout that has tracked the squad to Serbia, where they play Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Son was still in a state of shock in training on Monday and the Red Star game was the last thing on his mind. Did he even want to travel on Tuesday? What is known is that Son has asked himself a lot of meaningful questions, taking in the basic point of it all, and he has needed his team-mates to rally round him. Aurier, meanwhile, has not travelled. Like Son he was visibly distraught but Pochettino said his absence was purely down to squad rotation.

Dele Alli, the Spurs midfielder, said after the Everton game that Son “can’t even pick his head up, he’s crying that much” and Kane added he had needed to reassure his friend that Gomes’s plight was not his fault. Yet Kane also made the point that now was a time for focus, for professionalism and moving on from the upset.

‘Getting on with our job’

“I know Sonny very well and I know that sort of event would have hurt him a lot,” he said. “With the players and the manager consoling him, he’s started to feel a bit better. The most important thing is that we can help Sonny get through what he needs to get through and Everton can do the same with André. It’s now about putting it to the back of our minds, sending thoughts and prayers with André and getting on with our job.”

Pochettino said that Son, having been “devastated” was now fine to play. He surely feels that sending Son straight back into the fray is the best course of action and he was more concerned at how he might plot a course away from domestic turbulence to a European tonic.

Spurs have flatlined in the Premier League since mid-February, taking 24 points from 23 matches, which is practically relegation form.

But the Champions League has provided respite – if last month’s 7-2 home humiliation against Bayern Munich can be overlooked. The run to last season’s final was as glorious as it was improbable and if Spurs can follow the 5-0 dismantling of Red Star from two weeks ago with another win they would put one foot in the last 16.

Pochettino, who has also left Kyle Walker-Peters and Harry Winks in London, remembered how Juventus had struggled desperately in the first three months of the 2015-16 season, having lost the Champions League final to Barcelona at the end of the previous campaign. “It shows how difficult it is to lose a final,” said Pochettino. Spurs continue to search for a turning point. – Guardian

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