LONDON • Gary Lineker believes that Tottenham Hotspur's young English triumvirate - Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Eric Dier - have a "real chance of establishing themselves as internationals for years to come" if they avoid injury and maintain their form. They would help England to emerge from what Lineker calls "the Dark Ages".
"I took a bit of a punt at the beginning of the season, saying Alli might break into the England squad at the Euros, and then he started playing really well," says Lineker, the former Spurs player.
"Now I don't think it's a question of whether he will be in the squad, it's whether he will be in the team."
Alli, who joined Spurs for £5 million (S$10.5 million) from Milton Keynes Dons last season, has played four times for England.
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The former England captain understandably laces his praise of the 19-year-old box-to-box midfielder with a cautionary caveat.
"Alli clearly has got something special," Lineker adds.
"I'm always a little bit wary about building people up too much because expectations come very quickly, and then it is not always easy for a young man, probably still growing and certainly maturing. Things can happen, injuries, etc, that can slow things down, but given a fair run this kid looks something special.
"He's clearly very, very well motivated. He's got a bit of everything. He scores goals as well. He's still so young. He's clearly an absolute athlete, who can run all day."
Lineker will get a close-up of Alli tomorrow, when he hosts BBC One's coverage of the FA Cup third-round tie between two of his former clubs, Spurs and Leicester City, at White Hart Lane.
The tie is sure to involve Lineker discussing Kane with erstwhile England strikers Peter Crouch and Alan Shearer, and the former Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill.
"Again, without wishing to make any horrible comparisons with someone, Kane does remind me a little bit of Shearer," Lineker says.
Kane, 22, can play as a No. 9 or No. 10. "Yes, he can, and that's partly his appeal," Lineker said.
"He has a really strong all-round game. He's not lightning quick, but he's not slow. That's the only thing you would look at and say, 'If he was a yard or two quicker' .
"He can hold it up, he's dynamic, good in the air, works his socks off, got a really good touch, can beat players. He scores poacher's goals, takes free kicks, takes penalties. He does the whole thing."
As for 21-year-old Dier's ease in the holding role, Lineker says: "He looks a natural there. He's blossomed into that position. Again, that has definitely been a problem position for England.
"To get that kind of player would be a huge bonus for Roy (Hodgson) going into the Euros."
Leicester will miss Englishman Jamie Vardy, 28, their leading scorer who has undergone a groin operation, today. Lineker believes it will be a big loss.
"I've been more than impressed with him this season.'' Lineker says. "Who wouldn't be? He's dynamic, he's got incredible energy, he gets chances for himself nearly every game. Even in recent weeks, when he's not 100 per cent, he still keeps getting in there.
"The speed he's got gives Leicester a real edge up front. He's made a massive difference.
"Hopefully it's not an injury that will slow him down at all and he gets back fit soon."
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