Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou said Son Heung-min’s departure for the Asian Cup is a “big loss” as he urged his side to make up for the South Korean’s untimely absence.
Postecoglou’s team host Burnley in the FA Cup third round on Friday in the first of up to six matches without Son.
The Tottenham skipper has scored 12 times in all competitions this season, helping his club climb to fifth place in the Premier League.
Postecoglou believes they will miss the forward’s influence off the pitch as well as his goals, with vice-captains Cristian Romero and James Maddison both injured.
“Sonny, if you name a team of the year at the moment, he’s in it,” Postecoglou said.
“He’s been a hell of a player for us. It’s a big loss for us, another one, and we’re going to have to really raise everyone’s levels to cover the absence of another significant contributor for us this season.
“What’s more important is that Sonny has been an outstanding leader in deeds, actions and words and we’re going to need players to step up tomorrow irrespective of who’s wearing the armband.”
Tottenham also lose Senegal’s Pape Matar Sarr and Mali’s Yves Bissouma to international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations this month.
But it is Son’s exit that poses the biggest headache for Postecoglou and he will turn to Richarlison to fill the goal void.
The Brazil forward looks revitalised after groin surgery in November, scoring five times in his past five matches.
“He’s just free of injury, he feels good physically and he’s just able to perform at the levels that he wants to,” Postecoglou said.
“He couldn’t do that at the start of the season. Even though he was playing for us, he was feeling restricted in his movements.
“His body feels good and then he’s scoring goals, which makes him feel a little bit more confident in himself.”
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