Kane able to assume long-term captaincy

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane has scored 13 goals in his last eight appearances for club and country. His importance to England has seen him receive the captain's armband.
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane has scored 13 goals in his last eight appearances for club and country. His importance to England has seen him receive the captain's armband.PHOTO: REUTERS

Southgate, yet to pick full-time skipper, says striker's 'leadership qualities are invaluable'

LONDON • Harry Kane appears close to becoming Wayne Rooney's successor as permanent England captain after being handed the armband for today's World Cup qualifier against Slovenia by manager Gareth Southgate.

The Tottenham Hotspur striker captained England against Scotland and France at the end of last season, with Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson taking on the captaincy against Malta and Slovakia last month.

"He is captain for tomorrow, which he knew a month ago. We'd already had that conversation," Southgate told a press conference yesterday at Tottenham's training ground in Enfield, north London.

"He's somebody whose leadership qualities are invaluable to us as a team. He's in a very good moment as well in terms of his form."

Kane has scored 13 goals in his last eight appearances for club and country.

"It makes me very proud," the 24-year-old said. "As a kid, you want to play for your country and you always dream about being captain, especially walking out at Wembley. That will be an amazing thing for me personally."

Southgate has rotated the armband between Kane, Henderson and Chelsea centre-back Gary Cahill in recent months after Rooney lost his place as a regular starter. Rooney has since retired from international football.

Southgate will also look to Kane to fire England to next year's World Cup in Russia when they tackle Slovenia in their penultimate qualifying match today.

Victory over Slovenia at Wembley will give England a place at the World Cup and, with Kane scoring so freely, his team-mates will take to the field buoyed by an extra measure of belief.

"He is hot, isn't he?" goalkeeper Joe Hart said earlier this week. "He is scoring just as many goals as the people we have related to as world-class and he has been doing it for many seasons.

"Harry is just brilliant... He keeps scoring goals and you cannot ask for more than that."

Kane's Tottenham team-mate Dele Alli is unavailable due to suspension after being given a one-match ban by Fifa for flashing his middle finger during England's 2-1 win over Slovakia last month.

Manchester United centre-back Phil Jones and Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph have both withdrawn from the squad with injuries, joining Tottenham left-back Danny Rose, Liverpool's Adam Lallana and Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy on the sidelines.

Delph's replacement, 21-year-old Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks, will hope to make his senior international debut.

Five points clear of Slovakia at the top of European qualifying Group F, England need just two points from today's game and Sunday's trip to Lithuania to reach the World Cup for the sixth time in succession. But, having been held to a 0-0 draw by Slovenia a year ago, they know that completing the job at the first time of asking will not be a foregone conclusion.

Third in the group, Slovenia trail Slovakia by a point and are above Scotland on goal difference in the battle for a play-off berth.

While Slovenia captain Bostjan Cesar is conscious of the threat posed by Kane and Co, he says his team will approach the game with no sense of inferiority.

"I saw Kane is in great form, but England have several other quality players," said Cesar, whose side complete their qualifying campaign at home against Scotland on Sunday. "We respect England, but we are not afraid of them."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2017, with the headline 'Kane able to assume long-term captaincy'. Print Edition | Subscribe