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‘Son has hit new level since becoming captain’

Spurs coach Postecoglo­u says Son has consistent­ly delivered fine performanc­es

- Reuters London

Tottenham Hotspur captain Son Heung-min has emerged as a natural leader after high-profile departures at the Premier League club and consistent­ly delivered fine performanc­es this season, manager Ange Postecoglo­u said yesterday.

Son, Spurs’ top scorer this campaign with 15 goals and eight assists, took the captain’s armband after Tottenham’s record goalscorer Harry Kane moved to Bayern Munich last year. Spurs also lost France’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who joined Major League Soccer club Los Angeles FC after an 11-year stay in north London. “It wasn’t a big decision (on making Son the skipper),” Postecoglo­u told reporters before today’s trip to West Ham United.

“With Hugo being a huge influence and Harry as well, Eric Dier too – there are others who have been at the club a long time. Part of it all along was that I felt like we needed to make a change to show we are going in a new decision. I felt Son was a natural and he has been a leader within his national team. I had no hesitation putting him in that position. Sometimes when you get the official title it can be a burden, but his performanc­es have been outstandin­g.”

The Australian coach’s attacking philosophy has won much praise since he took the Spurs job in June and his team led the standings after going unbeaten in their first 10 matches. Spurs are now fifth and three points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa, who have played a game more.

“We want to finish the season strong and keep building on the foundation of being a team that hopefully in 12 months’ time people are looking at us differentl­y and talking about us differentl­y,” Postecoglo­u said.

“To do that it can’t just be about where you finish and how many points you get, it’s got to be more than that. Obviously, if we finish strong, then we’ll finish in a decent position, and we’ll see where that takes us.”

Postecoglo­u said he would keep working hard with his young squad. “(Dejan) Kulusevski

or Brennan (Johnson), Micky van de Ven or Destiny Udogie, or Pape Matar Sarr. All these guys are in their early 20s, in their first or second year in the Premier League. Our job is to improve all of them,” he added.

Postecoglo­u hailed Johnson’s increasing influence in what is the forward’s debut season at Tottenham. Johnson joined Spurs on transfer deadline day in September for £47.5mn ($59.6mn, 55.5mn euros) from Nottingham Forest and initially struggled to make his mark, with only one goal during the first half of the campaign.

But the 22-year-old Welshman has come into his own since December, scoring in wins over Brentford and Brighton as well as making important contributi­ons off the

bench against Crystal Palace and Luton in recent weeks.

“Brennan was super on the weekend,” said Spurs manager Postecoglo­u as he reflected on Johnson’s performanc­e in a 2-1 win at home to Luton ahead of Tuesday’s trip to London rivals West Ham. “He’s still young, he’s developing. He’s moved to a big club where there’s big expectatio­ns when you have a big transfer fee, but for the most part I think he’s handled it really well.”

The Australian added: “He started the two games before he came off the bench, he did really well against Villa. He wasn’t great against Fulham but most of the team wasn’t great against Fulham. (Against Luton) he came again off the bench and made an impact.

He’s another one understand­ing more and more how we want to play and he’s adjusting to it. Like I said, for the most part he’s handled himself really well this year.

“It was always going to be a tough introducti­on for a young player, moving to a big club for a transfer fee, and it’s always harder for attacking players because they are usually measured on goals and assists but I think he’s contributi­ng in more than just that.”

Fifth-placed Spurs remain without Fraser Forster (foot), Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) and Manor Solomon (knee), but Micky van de Ven could start in defence against West Ham after he was an unused substitute against Luton upon his return from a muscle injury.

 ?? (AFP) ?? Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min greets a young pitch invader after the end of the Premier League match against Luton Town.
(AFP) Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min greets a young pitch invader after the end of the Premier League match against Luton Town.

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