Belfast Telegraph

I won't be hampered by wearing England captain's armband, vows Kane

 

By Rory Dollard

Harry Kane is sure the pressure of the England captaincy would never weigh him down after Gareth Southgate handed him the armband for tonight's game against Slovenia.

Kane will lead the side out at Wembley for a match that could end with confirmation of a place at next year's World Cup, but England manager Southgate has been reluctant to anoint a permanent successor to the retired Wayne Rooney.

Jordan Henderson, Joe Hart and Gary Cahill have all been handed the responsibility, while Kane took the reins against Scotland and Spain in June.

Former England boss Roy Hodgson has suggested leadership might detract from the Tottenham striker's main job - scoring goals and winning matches - but Kane, who has netted 13 times in his last eight games, has no such concerns.

"Having an armband on your arm doesn't make any difference to how you play and if you score goals or not," he said.

"It makes me very proud. Growing up as a kid you dream about playing for your country and being captain as well. Walking out at Wembley will be an amazing thing for me, personally.

"I'll just go out there and do my best for the team, try and score goals and win the match.

"We have plenty of leaders in the team. Plenty of us will speak up and try to help each other."

Southgate's association with Kane goes back to their time with the Under-21s and he is in no doubt about what the Spurs man brings to the role.

But he has placed huge significance on sharing the load throughout the set-up, bemoaning the burden borne by Rooney during his own spell as skipper.

"His leadership qualities are invaluable to us," said Southgate. "I've known him a long time and he's improving and maturing.

"The important thing for me was when we looked at the group at the start we saw potential leaders but lads who hadn't had experience of leading. So how did we get that happening? Different situations and opportunities being in front of people.

"There are lots of things that make a good captain. That won't happen overnight, but we have several people who can step in."

Kane's Spurs team-mate Dele Alli will not be lining up behind the 24-year-old having been handed a one-match ban for raising his middle finger during last month's win over Slovakia.

Southgate said: "It's quite a unique circumstance. It's probably a fair outcome.

"He recognises his responsibilities and how things will be viewed, and how his world is changing in terms of the spotlight on him. He won't do it again, that's for sure. It's an experience he'll have learned from. These experiences will make him better going forward."

  • England v Slovenia, World Cup Qualifying Group F: Wembley, Tonight, 7.45pm

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