Harry Kane denies uncertainty over Gareth Southgate is a distraction

Harry Kane denies uncertainty over Gareth Southgate is a distraction

Harry Kane has said that he would love Gareth Southgate to stay on as England’s manager after the 2022 World Cup.

Southgate’s contract is due to expire after Qatar and he is yet to open talks with the Football Association over an extension. The 50-year-old has refused to hold negotiations before qualification for the World Cup is secured and could decide to seek a new challenge, but Kane was adamant that the uncertainty is not a distraction for the squad before their final two qualifiers against Albania and San Marino.

“That is between the manager and the FA and as players we would never put pressure on a manager to make a decision before then,” Kane said. “Obviously we have a job to do in these two games and a job to do going into a big year next year. I don’t think it matters from a player’s point of view if it is decided then or not.

“I think I speak for a lot of players but personally I get on well with the manager. I think he has been great and his record at international level speaks for itself. We are improving as a team. Semi-final in the World Cup, final in the Euros: we are heading in the right direction. Of course I would love him to stay but it will come down to him and the FA and his personal decision.”

England will be certain of qualification if they take four points from these two games, although they are under pressure before hosting Albania on Friday night. They produced a drab performance in last month’s home draw with Hungary and Kane, who was substituted in that game, admitted that his performances needed to improve.

“My attitude has been as a player to always fear for my place, whether it be for club or country,” the striker said. “The way you train and the way you prepare, you should always feel there is somebody trying to take your spot.”

Southgate said that no player was undroppable but he defended his selection of Raheem Sterling. The winger has started three league games for Manchester City this season.

“There is a preference for us that players are playing regularly because they’re match-sharp, but if their physical condition is good then we’ve got to look at who we feel our best players are,” Southgate said. “That doesn’t mean they’re undroppable, and I think any player in the squad has been in or out at some time, Raheem included.

“And that doesn’t mean if we’re not playing well, we won’t take players off, because we’ve also done that, but there’s a balance with your selection: ‘OK, who’s in form, but over how long a period is that, have they produced in the big matches yet, do we know quite yet what they can do?’ And Raheem has proved time and time again with us how important he’s been.”

However, Southgate has injury problems. Mason Mount and Luke Shaw are major doubts and Jack Grealish has returned to training after a short illness. Southgate could turn to Bukayo Saka if Grealish is not ready to start. Jordan Henderson is expected to partner Kalvin Phillips in midfield after Declan Rice’s withdrawal.

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