England manager Roy Hodgson has seemingly ruled out Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane starting Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania, with the 21-year-old instead expected to make his debut from the bench.
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Reports in the Daily Mirror suggest the decision has been made to allow captain Wayne Rooney to continue his fledgling partnership with Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck and Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, who will play just behind the Manchester United star.
Hodgson has promised that Kane will feature against either Lithuania, or in the friendly against Italy on Tuesday, but the Spurs star – who has scored 29 goals in all competitions so far this season – will have to wait for the time being.
The England manager, who was quoted by the Mirror, said: “We’ve been very happy with Harry Kane this week. He’s done well and has done exceptionally well in the league.
“He’s not in any way damaged chances of playing in the senior team and I’m sure over the course of two games we will see him make his debut. We’ll see if that’s from the start, or if it’s coming on as sub.
“If we put him in and he starts and he doesn’t go well, we should have been a bit more solicitous in giving him a bit more time to find his feet.
“If we don’t put him in and it doesn’t go so well we are guilty of not giving a form player his chance so in this situation it is a question which has to be resolved – do I start him in the game or do I perhaps bring him on in the course of the game? Do I start him in the game against Italy? Do I not start him in either game?
“This is my decision – one I have to deal with and whatever decision I make there are people out there who would say I should have done it a different way.”
Welbeck has scored five in his last five England games, while Rooney is chasing England’s all-time goalscoring record. Kane has been widely tipped for a Three Lions call-up for several months, but looks set to return to the Under-21s in the summer.
Speaking about his selection headache, Hodgson added: “Welbeck is still very much in contention; as is Wayne Rooney, who we are delighted to see playing up front again for Manchester United because we have always used him as a front player.
“I thought he (Welbeck) and Wayne did exceptionally well together as our two front players.”