Harry Kane keeps England armband as Southgate stalls on captaincy

Harry Kane will keep the captain's armband for England's season-ending friendly in France, where Tom Heaton and Jack Butland will play instead of under-scrutiny Joe Hart.

Harry Kane, left, will skipper the England team again in tonights friendly against France. Picture: AFP/Getty.
Harry Kane, left, will skipper the England team again in tonights friendly against France. Picture: AFP/Getty.

Fresh from Saturday’s frantic World Cup qualifying draw against Scotland at Hampden, England have returned to the country that last year witnessed one of their lowest moments, when they bowed out of Euro 2016 at the hands of Iceland.

Kane became the fifth different captain in seven matches in the 2-2 draw in Glasgow and will lead again tonight.

“I am not committing to a timescale on that,” said manager Gareth Southgate on being asked when a permanent captain would be named.

“I think it has been a good experience to develop other leaders. We’re seeing that not only in terms of responsibility but the way the group are prepared to contribute when we’re discussing games, when we’re reviewing games.

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“There’s lots of potential leaders in different ways –some are at the forefront, speak first, lead from the front in different ways.

“Others more thoughtful, take responsibility on the ball, show leadership in other ways. Everybody’s different.But I am not in a rush to make that decision.”

Southgate was also keen to underline that Hart’s absence from the starting line-up was not a knee-jerk reaction to his display in Scotland, on which the England manager was unwilling to open up.

Burnley goalkeeper Heaton will be rewarded with his first international start and Stoke’s Butland will play the second half having not represented his country since suffering an ankle injury against Germany 444 days ago.

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“I said on Saturday it was never my intention to play Joe in this game,” Southgate said. “Tom Heaton will start the game and Jack Butland will play the second half for different reasons.

“Tom has had an outstanding season. We’ve got to maintain the squad environment, that people feel involved. In that goalkeeping situation, you need to give 
players opportunity, game-time.

“I think in the past one or two goalkeepers have sort of given up international football because they’ve not had that chance, so I am conscious of keeping people involved.

“Equally, Jack is coming back from a long lay-off. He was the No 2 before that, hasn’t had the amount of game-time perhaps up to now, but we think he can also challenge for the number one slot moving forwards.

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“We’ve got good competition for places, it’s a greatly opportunity to look at people.

“It’s a difficult call on Fraser (Forster), who also is a very good goalkeeper, but with those four and Jordan Pickford and a couple of lads coming up potentially from the Championship next year, we’re healthy.

“Like in all positions, 
we want competition for 
places.”