Antonio Conte has admitted Tottenham need Son Heung-min at his best but has no doubts about him returning to form.
The forward has five goals for Spurs this season, but they came in just two games meaning the South Korean has failed to score in 19 club fixtures during the current campaign.
Son sustained a facial fracture ahead of the World Cup and despite recovering in time to feature in Qatar, he failed to find the net at the tournament and Conte knows he is struggling.
Ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Crystal Palace, the Italian talked up the importance of last season’s joint-Premier League Golden Boot winner.
Conte said: “Son for sure is trying to find the best form. After the injury he had against Marseille he struggled a bit and also in the World Cup he didn’t score.
“But we are talking about a player that if we put him in this discussion we are in trouble, because Sonny and Kane are the two most important players with Hugo Lloris.
“If we start to put into discussion them or to have doubts about them, then I think we are really in trouble.
“For sure a team like us we need in every game, injuries or not injuries, the most important players to give their best, but you know across a season in 60 games that you can’t play every game at the peak of your form and make a difference. This is normal.
“But for sure we are talking about three players in Sonny, Kane and Hugo, who can make the difference. Our expectations are always very high for them. I think their commitment, their will, their desire is always the same. They know the role they have in the squad.”
Spurs will be missing several key players for the clash in south London with Yves Bissouma suspended, Rodrigo Bentancur still absent with a hamstring issue and Richarlison also sidelined.
Dejan Kulusevski will be assessed but appears 50-50 due to a minor muscle injury that prevented him from featuring in Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa.
Conte spoke at length about Tottenham’s project and expectations following their weekend home defeat but was critical of reports that suggested he was telling the club to be active in the January transfer window.
He insisted: “I didn’t suggest anything. This is the difference. I understand that maybe my English is not so good and maybe you don’t understand which is my thought. I didn’t suggest anything.
“I said only what we are doing, which is the project, which is the programme. But I didn’t suggest anything.”
Pushed on whether he was still happy at Tottenham and committed to the project, Conte reverted back to his grasp of English.
“Yeah, I am happy but it doesn’t mean I cannot tell you what we are doing. We are trying to create a base foundation,” he said.
“Sometimes I go to my home and yeah, I think for sure I have to study much more English because I am not good to transfer my thoughts to you.”