Mauricio Pochettino refuses to put a date on Harry Kane's Tottenham return

LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino has refused to rule out Harry Kane for Tottenham's Premier League match at Chelsea on April 1.

Tottenham have said Kane will return to training next month after suffering ankle ligament damage in the 4-1 win at Bournemouth last Sunday.

Kane will definitely miss Saturday's FA Cup quarterfinal at Swansea but, asked if he could play in the potential top-four decider at Stamford Bridge following the international break, Pochettino refused to put a date on the forward's return.

"You're going to read all the information in the media -- that's one thing," the Spurs manager said. "The reality is now he's in his crutches and his boot and we need to assess him day by day and we'll see the reaction of his ankle.

"We cannot put a day or date on him starting to participate in training with the team. That is the first step, the second step is for him to build his fitness. Of course, it's not a long-term injury and it's easier to keep your form and that helps you to be fit quicker when you fix your problem.

"We're happy because he's so positive and when you see a positive player it always helps us too to believe he can be ready again to compete as soon as possible."

It is the third time Kane has suffered the same injury in 18 months after he damaged the ligaments in his right ankle against both Sunderland and Millwall last season.

On the first occasion in September 2016, he missed seven weeks but, after hobbling off against Millwall in the FA Cup fifth-round in March 2016, he missed just 26 days and three matches.

"He's a warrior He put his leg in the washing machine for the team to try to score!" Pochettino said. "Against Sunderland, Millwall and now -- because he's so brave. Maybe another player says, 'I'm not going to take a risk.' But he's a warrior, that's how he is. That why Harry Kane is Harry Kane.

"He's very positive. He was positive after the [Bournemouth] game. His character is always to be optimistic. He's trying to be focused on recovering as soon as possible. We'll see if it's two weeks or three weeks, I don't know."

Spurs spent £15 million on former Spain striker Fernando Llorente in the summer but Pochettino introduced winger Erik Lamela for Kane on Saturday, with Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min rotating between the No. 9 position for the remainder of the 4-1 win.

Pochettino said Spurs would miss Kane but he is confident they have enough options to continue their push for a place in the top four and the FA Cup without him.

"We're talking about one of the best strikers in the world." he added. "You cannot compare with another. Of course we are going to miss Harry because it's obvious that he is one of the best.

"But in the same way we are calm and relaxed, because we have quality enough to play and win games. It's not an excuse that Harry is now out for a few weeks that are not going to have the same mentality and try to win the games like with him.

"We have different players that can play in that position. Dele Alli, Lamela, Son, Llorente, Lucas Moura. We have quality enough and different alternatives we can use."

Fortunately for Spurs, Kane is their only absentee for the visit to the Liberty Stadium but Pochettino said he is yet to decide if Toby Alderweireld will start after he returned to full training following a recurrence of a hamstring injury three weeks ago.

Midfielder Harry Winks -- who, like Kane, was omitted from Gareth Southgate's senior England squad for the upcoming friendlies against Netherlands and Italy, continues to "feel something in his ankle," according to Pochettino, but is available.

And Southgate is making a contingency plan for Kane should he be absent for the World Cup, despite being confident over the England frontman's fitness.

He said: "It's part of our World Cup bingo that we've got going on. Base camp hotel, injury to key player...

"I've had Harry available for six out of 14 games so far, so we always need a 'what-if' scenario planning in our minds.

"I'm very clear. At this stage we want to be keeping options available because as you've seen with Harry, something can happen at the drop of a hat.

"Who do we need to look at to, who do we need to learn more about to be able to replace some of the first-choice players.

"Players are developing quickly and we have some good young players who are coming through, youngsters developing at rate of knots.

"I'm very comfortable with team I'd pick tomorrow, but equally I can't just have that in my head because in this job, things change.

"We are experimenting with some players we think we need to know might come into the fringes of the squad.

"But we also have to accept we are not as far down the path as Brazil are and Germany in having a more settled team.

"Also our young players are developing so quickly and we have faith in them over a longer period of time so to give them experience now is critical.''

Spurs are yet to win silverware under Pochettino and the FA Cup is their only remaining chance this season following last week's Champions League elimination.

The Argentine said he understood the frustration at Spurs' failure to win silverware but, in a veiled attack on League Cup winners Man City, he said: "We are not a club that are going to buy trophies, we are a club that is going to deserve trophies.

"That for me is why people show frustration because they think we deserve trophies that we do not achieve. That is part of the process.

"The players are happy. The worst thing in life is to compare with another and we only need to compare Tottenham with Tottenham. The players need to feel very proud about all they are doing, and everyone in the club is the same. We know the reality and we need to feel proud because the way we are competing in the last few years is a thing to be proud of."