Harry Kane is set to make his England debut on Friday evening. The Tottenham Hotspur striker is likely to appear in the Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania, either as a starter alongside captain Wayne Rooney, or as a substitute.
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The game itself is of little importance. England will almost certainly win, and even if they don’t they will remain well clear at the top of a qualification group which only requires us to finish in the top two to be guaranteed a spot in France next year.
It therefore comes as little surprise that one of the game’s biggest talking points will be Harry Kane, a 21-year-old centre forward who before this season had only played in 14 Premier League matches, scoring just three goals.
Form is a powerful thing in football. Just ask David Nugent, Jay Bothroyd, Francis Jeffers or Michael Ricketts, who have all proved in previous years that you don’t have to do much as a striker to earn a call-up to the England squad.
While Kane – with 29 goals in 43 games in all competitions this year – looks a class above that quartet of one-cap wonders, tomorrow night is an important opportunity for the youngster to make a statement, and prove that he’s here to stay.
As ever when it comes to the Three Lions, a young and promising player will see his debut met with a huge amount of expectation, as well as an astonishing amount of pressure. One poor performance, and people will already be questioning his place. It’s not nice and it’s not fair, but that’s how it is with this England team – who have consistently fell short of what supporters have been hoping for since the mid-1990s.
Speaking today as part of his BBC Sport column, former England striker Alan Shearer was full of praise for Kane. Having scored 30 goals in 63 games for his country, the ex-Newcastle United man seems more qualified than anyone to make a judgement on his latest successor’s prospects.
The most noteworthy observations describe Kane as someone with an excellent attitude, as well as a hard-worker with a thirst to prove himself. He also adds specifically: “He has got a great touch, heading ability, can mix it physically and his finishing is top class.”
However, the truth is that Kane is still very raw. He started the season out of the Tottenham team, and has only truly shone for the last six months. Like it or not, times have changed since Shearer was at his prime in an England shirt, you need to do more.
Has Kane got the capabilities to become a striker of the calibre of Shearer? Absolutely. The question is, will he be allowed too. There are still enough people that complain about Wayne Rooney being in the England team, despite the fact that he’s closing in on both the appearance and goal scoring records, and has enjoyed a near-perfect start to his time as captain.
The pressure on the best players in the country, in a world that’s now dominated by social media and judgement, is immense. Kane appears to be a strong-minded person who won’t be easily shaken, but a blip of ten plus games without a goal will come at some point. Only then will we know how good he’s truly going to be.