Tottenham striker Harry Kane is ahead of schedule in his recovery from hamstring surgery, with boss Jose Mourinho banking on him being fit to take part in the club’s push for a Champions League spot.
Kane went under the knife in January after rupturing his tendon against Southampton on New Year’s Day and Mourinho initially feared he might not play again this season.
But the England captain is a notoriously quick healer and is making good progress, having begun on-field rehabilitation this week.
Mourinho has said that he may now get five games out of his talisman at the end of the season, with the north London derby against Arsenal at the end of April looking a possibility.
It is a big boost for Tottenham, who have no fit strikers, and England boss Gareth Southgate ahead of Euro 2020.
“I would say a little bit ahead, it gives me a hope of, instead of one or two matches, (it will be) three, four or five. I don’t know,” Mourinho said on Friday.
“Just speculating a little bit but the feelings are good. He’s doing what he can do at this stage but always with a good feeling.”
Kane has recovered quickly from a string of injuries in recent seasons.
While insisting that he would not be rushed back, Mourinho said Kane was a player who “doesn’t accept protocols”.
“Let’s see with Harry,” he said. “He’s obviously a great professional and a fighter and he wants to be back as soon as possible. What’s ‘as soon as possible?’ I don’t know.”
Kane’s absence was compounded by an injury to forward Son Heung-min, who returned to South Korea last week to have surgery on a fractured arm.
Mourinho appeared to rule him out for the rest of the season but has now said there is hope he will be fit sooner than originally thought.
“That’s another hope but of course we’re far from it,” Mourinho said. “He’s coming back to England very soon. Then of course he’ll have to follow some safety protocols because he flies from Seoul.
“When his recovery starts, we’ll try all the possibilities to have him back for some matches.
“I cannot imagine when. But there’s a good possibility that before the end of the season, we have Harry and Sonny playing together.”
Son is due to fly back to Britain this weekend when he will follow government advice on the coronavirus and stay indoors in self-isolation for 14 days.
Mourinho has refused to comment on whether Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli will contest his Football Association charge over a social media post appearing to mock the coronavirus.