Mauricio Pochettino compares returning Tottenham star to Lionel Messi

Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino has compared Harry Kane’s importance to Spurs to that of Lionel Messi’s at Barcelona ahead of the 23-year-old’s potential return to the starting XI to face Watford at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

The free-scoring striker has missed the North London side’s last three Premier League victories over Southampton, Burnley and Swansea City due to an ankle ligament injury picked up during their 6-0 FA Cup win over Millwall last month.

Even-though the title challengers have not struggled for goals in the England international’s absence, the Argentine manager believes that his star forward can provide a similar boost to that of one of the world’s best.

“I’m not doubting Harry Kane”, the 45-year-old told Sky Sports.

“If he plays from the beginning or not, I think there’s no doubt that Harry is one of our best players.

“In Barcelona, Messi was injured for a month but Barcelona were still winning, and then when Messi’s available again, you don’t say ‘hmm, I don’t know’.

“Different names, I can’t tell you. But there’s no doubt Harry’s one of the best players that we have.

“We’ll see whether he will start the game or be on the bench. But it’s good news that he’s ready. He feels good about his recovery.

“It’s very good news for him and for us. He’s an important player for us, and for him to be available for us is great.

“We are happy, he’s ready, maybe normally after one month out you need to feel the competition. But he’s a special player, he tries to push himself a lot.”

Tottenham go into their lunch-time fixture with the Hornets in second place – seven points behind league leaders Chelsea.

However, after their London rivals have shown indifferent form in recent weeks, Pochettino knows that Kane could prove the catalyst in closing the gap even further, and will leave it late to decide the Englishman’s role in this crucial clash.

“We do need to decide tomorrow if he will be in the starting XI or on the bench”, the former Southampton manager added.

“But the good news is he’s back. And he’s our main striker.

“What Harry means for the team is a massive boost for us and it’s fantastic news.

“He’s always desperate to play, he’s always pushing you to try to let him train, play, and score goals. His character is unbelievable.”