With Son Heung-Min injured for two weeks with a hamstring strain, the north London side were hopeful that the England captain would not be needed in their third round FA Cup game against League One strugglers Morecambe.
But it was not to be as Antony O’Connor swept in a corner giving the visitors to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium the lead, and meaning that head coach Antonio Conte had to make changes, call for the cavalry, and bring on his senior players to get the job done.
Kane eventually settled the cup contest with a neat arrowed finish into the corner of the net, set up by Giovani Lo Celso.
That followed Lucas Moura rounding Trevor Carson and slotting in with just five minutes of the game remaining.
Into the hat for round four then, where Brighton & Hove Albion await.
But this was Kane’s 33rd appearance of the campaign, if only for 21 minutes, and the striker has been consistently needed in cup competitions where Spurs have failed to put away opposition from far-away climes or from down the football pyramid.
- Romelu Lukaku has 1,685 minutes of action this season so far
- Alexandre Lacazette 998
- Mo Salah 2,250
- to Kane’s 2,473 (All stats from WhoScored.com)
Even given the slow start to the season for Kane, as he hoped for a transfer to Manchester City, the 28-year-old has still played far more than the leading men at Tottenham’s rivals.
Spurs need a reliable back-up to Harry Kane
The club opted to not recruit a striker last summer, having lost the services of Garth Bale and Carlos Vinicius for this season.
Senior decision-makers Fabio Paratici, Daniel Levy, Steve Hitchen and then head coach Nuno Espirito Santo decided to bide their time in the transfer market and instead hand minutes to Dane Scarlett, the England U19s forward who has been a revelation at youth level but has yet to translate that across to the men’s game.
The 17-year-old has seven goals in eight games for his country, leading the line for Ian Foster’s Young Lions outfit and playing alongside Aston Villa’s Carney Chukwuemeka and Chelsea’s Jude Soonsup-Bell, but no goals at senior level for his club side yet.
Perhaps burned by losing former academy talent and England U21s winger Noni Madueke on a free transfer to PSV, who has impressed in the Eredivisie, Spurs have shown that they will hand chances to their best young players.
But Scarlett has some way to go before being a viable alternative to fellow academy graduate Kane.
Or Son or Steven Bergwijn, who has been suggested could play the false nine role by Conte before.
Adama Traore transfer
Multiple media outlets have explained that Tottenham are looking for a right wing-back to come in, with Adama Traore a key transfer target this January, but also a forward to arrive too.
Spanish winger Traore would be a very handy acquisition ahead of those several key upcoming fixtures.
More likely is that a deal is completed - as ever - right at the end of the transfer window, with Spurs always more active closer to deadline day rather than the start of the window.
Indeed, the reliable transfer expert Fabrizio Romano explained on Sunday evening that the plan is for Spurs to now cash in on Bergwijn this window, with Ajax keen on the Dutch winger, who has made just three starts in the Premier League in 2021-22.
That signals that room is being made for additional winger Traore to arrive, who also offers a possible attacking right-wing-back alternative.
Italian striker links
But also that Tottenham do indeed mean to bring in another forward too.
They simply just can’t rely on Kane, Son and Scarlett given their ambitions to make the top four come May.
Italian striker Gianluca Scamacca has been linked with the Lilywhites on Monday, and the 6ft4’ striker could provide just the physical ‘reference’ point that Conte has previously made mention of.
Indeed, tall target man Fernando Llorente made some significant contributions as Mauricio Pochettino’s side made it to the 2019 Champions League final, and Sassuolo front-man Scamacca bears those same physical attributes.
Or perhaps Tottenham will return once more for Gareth Bale at the end of the transfer window, with the Wales winger suffering injury problems and not featuring at Real Madrid, with the aim of using him as an auxiliary forward.
Bale’s stamina may not be what it once was, but he can score (11 goals in 20 appearances in the Premier League last season, from just 10 starts) and offers an aerial threat too, thanks to a strong leap.
Whichever way the London club proceeds, a new forward is needed to compete with and supplement Kane.
Otherwise, short term gains may lead to long-term pain for Tottenham, as the games mount up and over-reliance leads to a lack of form and increased chance of injury.
Kane has previous.
Over to Paratici and Conte to see what they can come up with in the next three weeks and for the club to show they have learned lessons from the past.