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Jose Mourinho refused to "play that game" as his media conference ahead of Tottenham's clash with Newcastle United was dominated by questions about Harry Kane's future.
Top-four chasing Tottenham head into Sunday's meeting at St James' Park knowing they can ill-afford a slip-up against the relegation-threatened Magpies.
Despite their position in the table – sixth – Kane, rather than a return to the Champions League, was the primary topic of conversation as Mourinho spoke with reporters.
Kane is under contract until 2024 but has recently said he will not decide his future until after this year's rescheduled European Championship, for which England are among the favourites.
Kane netted in his last game for Spurs, a 2-0 win at Aston Villa, and Mourinho is more interested in him replicating that display rather than any talk about a possible transfer.
"I cannot play that game," he replied when asked about speculation surrounding Kane. "I have to focus on what he is for us, of course I'm always pleased when my players go to national teams and they do well.
"I want Harry to be with us. I want Harry to repeat against Newcastle the same performance that he had against Aston Villa. The same commitment, same desire, same team spirit, leadership, that's what I want. I know that I'm going to have that."
The only game Steve Bruce is playing, meanwhile, is one of trying to ensure Premier League survival, with Newcastle only two points clear of the bottom three.
In a recent survey by Chronicle Live, 95 per cent of Newcastle fans who took part stated they wished for Bruce to be sacked,
"Everybody is entitled to their opinion," Bruce replied. "I can't take any notice of polls. I just have to focus on Tottenham."
Newcastle United – Allan Saint-Maximin
Saint-Maximin has still been returning slowly to full fitness after suffering from the long-term effects of COVID-19, but Bruce said the international break has allowed the influential winger to work on his stamina and sharpness.
Tottenham – Harry Kane
Kane has been involved in 43 goals in 40 games in all competitions this season (27 goals, 16 assists), just two short of his best ever season in his senior career (41 goals and four assists in 2017-18). His overall tally of 13 Premier League assists this season has only been bettered by two Tottenham players – Christian Eriksen in 2016-17 (15) and Darren Anderton in 1994-95 (14).
• Tottenham won this exact fixture 3-1 under Mourinho last season. It was the Portuguese manager's first ever Premier League away win against Newcastle, having failed to win any of his first seven visits to St James' Park (D3 L4).
• Newcastle have scored a league-low ratio 32 per cent of their Premier League goals in the first half of games this season (9-of-28), while Tottenham have shipped a league-low share of their goals conceded in the opening 45 minutes (36.7 per cent, 11-of-30).
• Tottenham have won four of their last five Premier League matches (L1), as many as they had in their previous 15 in the competition (D4 L7). Away from home, Spurs have won two of their last three league games (L1), more than in their previous eight on the road (W1 D3 L4).
• Since winning back-to-back league games against Crystal Palace and West Brom, Newcastle have won just two of their last 18 Premier League games (D5 L11). The Magpies have picked up fewer points in this period than any other Premier League side (11).
• Tottenham have scored 10 goals from direct attacks this season, more than any other Premier League side. A direct attack is one that starts inside a team's own half and contains at least 50 per cent of ball movement towards the opposition's goal, highlighting Spurs' effective counter attacking game.
Updated April 2, 2021