'Internally, it's a struggle' – Llorente admits frustration serving as backup striker for Kane at Spurs

Home / 'Internally, it's a struggle' – Llorente admits frustration serving as backup striker for Kane at Spurs

The Spaniard has been granted a rare spot in Tottenham’s starting line up in the absence of the England forward, but he craves a more prominent role

Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente has confessed that he “struggles” to accept playing second fiddle to Harry Kane in Mauricio Pochettino’s squad.

The 34-year-old has only started 20 games in total across all competitions for Spurs in the last two years, most recently returning to the line up for a European clash with Ajax.

Llorente was unable to find the net in a 1-0 home defeat in the Champions League semi-finals, but he is likely to retain a place in the starting XI while Kane continues his recovery from injury.

The veteran forward has featured in 30 matches for Spurs this season, scoring five goals. However, rumours of a summer return to former club Athletic Bilbao have surfaced since the turn of the year.

Speaking ahead of Tottenham’s Premier League clash against Bournemouth on Saturday, Llorente revealed he is far from content with a lack of regular minutes on the pitch but remains determined to fight for a place in the team.

“It’s something you have to adapt to,” he told Sky Sports. “I am at a great club with incredible players, and in the end, the manager has to make decisions, because only 11 players can play.

“It’s not easy for him and, with players of that quality, it’s not easy to get into the team.

“Internally, it’s a struggle. Because in the end what all players want is to play every Sunday, so every time you don’t, it’s a disappointment.

“But that’s also where you learn to be mentally strong and say, ‘Okay, I’m not playing but I have to keep working hard every day and I have to be ready every when the opportunity comes and the mister needs me.’

“That is the idea I always have in my head, but it’s also where it is most difficult because the only way to really get up to speed is to play 90 minutes regularly.

“That’s particularly the case for me because of my attributes as a striker. I need to feel strong and be in the best physical condition possible in order to show my best.”

Kane has been touted for a return in time for the European Cup final, but Spurs have an uphill task on their hands to qualify for the showpiece event when they travel to Amsterdam next week.

Llorente will be expected to lead the line once again and Tottenham will be boosted by the return of Son Heung-min, who missed the first leg against Ajax through suspension.

Spurs are in danger of finishing another campaign without a trophy, but Pochettino is on the verge of steering his side into the top four for a fourth consecutive season, having also overseen an impressive European run.

After revealing he would like to remain in north London for another year, Llorente praised the Argentine for his motivational skills, adding: “He’s a manager who gives a lot of freedom to his players in order to get the best out of them.

“He’s not the kind of manager who says, ‘You have to do this, this and this.’ He shows you that he trusts you and he doesn’t kick you off the team if you mess up or you do something bad.

“That mentality is something he drums into us. He knows how to motivate us and get the best out of us. It’s the way he has of managing the group, planning the training sessions and making sure we are all happy.”

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