HARRY Kane will make his first England start in tonight’s glamour friendly with Italy – an opportunity manager Roy Hodgson believes the striker fully deserves.
It is hard to fathom the speed at which the 21-year-old’s star has risen, having gone from third-choice striker at Tottenham to England’s golden boy in a matter of months.
Harry will go out and try to give his best and I am excited to play with himWayne Rooney
Kane required just 79 seconds of his debut on Friday to head home his first senior international goal, wrapping up a 4-0 win against Lithuania and boosting his chances of starting in Turin.
While Hodgson did not follow Italy counterpart Antonio Conte in naming his starting line-up for tonight’s match, the England manager did confirm the Spurs striker would make his full debut against Italy, three years to the day since being substituted in a 0-0 draw at Cardiff during a loan spell at Millwall.
“I can tell you that Harry Kane will make his full debut, playing from the start and Wayne Rooney will captain the team,” the England boss said.
“I understand why Antonio has done that [named his team] because this is a friendly match and it’s a time to experiment with players.
“But if you really want to know our line-up you will have to wait until tomorrow night when the game kicks off.”
Hodgson, like Conte, will tinker with his side in Turin, where England will move from the 4-3-3 they played in Friday’s in order to accommodate both Rooney and Kane.
“I think it’s nice to see the two of them on the field together,” former Inter Milan and Udinese manager Hodgson said.
“Obviously they’ve played a lot in training and the other night they could have, but they didn’t because Harry took Wayne’s place.
“So I am pleased to see them playing together from the start in this game. Harry certainly deserves his chance.”
It certainly looks an exciting partnership between England’s in-form striker and the man just two goals shy of Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time international scoring record.
“I think it is exciting for English football what Harry has done in the Premier League with Tottenham,” Rooney said.
“He has done fantastic so hopefully he continues that form with England. It is a big night for him, his first start for England. I am sure he will be excited.
“He will go out and try to give his best and I am obviously excited to play with him and hopefully we can do well to hopefully help the team win.”
England take on the Azzurri looking to rack up an eighth straight victory in all competitions, even if the opposition during that run has hardly been the ideal yardstick against which to measure progress.
This Italy side is not one of their greatest, highlighted by Saturday’s draw in Bulgaria, but tonight’s match is an intriguing test for England, especially having lost to them 2-1 in last year’s World Cup opener.
Italy are also unbeaten since the World Cup, but needed an 84th-minute goal from Sampdoria’s Eder to draw 2-2 with the Bulgarians at the weekend.
“We conceded two goals after two counter-attacks, and that’s something we have to improve,” said Conte, who brings back Gianluigi Buffon after the veteran goalkeeper pulled out of the Bulgaria game with a fever.
Eder also comes into the starting line-up but midfielder Marco Verratti will start from the bench
Hodgson added “Every game we play is a valuable learning exercise.
“Our real test in friendlies matches will come when the qualifying period is over.
“We’re hoping then that we’ll have other prestigious international friendlies against top teams, like Italy.
“I think for both Italy and ourselves, the real test of where we are will maybe come when the qualifying period is over.
“We’ve got France to look forward to and we’ve got these preparation matches against teams of Italy’s stature to measure where you are at this moment in time.
“At the moment, of course, it’s slightly different during the qualification period because you have a squad of players and you want to use it.
“But tomorrow night I think will be an excellent game. I know we are taking the game very seriously, I know Italy will take the game very seriously.
“For many players on both teams, it is a great opportunity to show Antonio Conte and myself that we made the right decision to put them in the squad and we should be considering putting them in the qualifying matches as well.”
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