Kane insists World Cup exit is ‘put to bed’ and that England are on ‘right path’

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Harry Kane insisted he has put the personal horror of England’s 2022 World Cup exit behind him as he declared himself fighting fit for the European Championship finals and said the team are on the “right path.”

The captain’s late penalty miss in the 2-1 quarter-final defeat against France in Qatar will always haunt him. But since then he has become ­England’s record goalscorer with 63 goals from 91 caps and has enjoyed a prolific debut season at ­Bayern Munich after his transfer from Tottenham last summer.

Kane admitted he does still think about how England’s previous tournament ended – “Yeah, pretty shit, wasn’t it?” – but it is not something that plays on his mind.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “In ­football you are going to have ups and downs on the way. Of course that was a down for me but I think over two years, for club and for country, I have put that to bed and I am just excited for another major tournament.”

England lost on penalties against Italy in the Euro 2020 final and they travel to Germany on Monday as the bookmakers’ favourites to win a first major men’s trophy since 1966. “Being so close in the last Euros, there is a real hunger to be back,” Kane said. “It comes around quick. We had the World Cup and we are back here again. I feel like we are on the right path. But as we all know as well, it is really ­difficult to win these tournaments.

“There are a lot of things that you have to do right and prepare right, and you need a bit of luck here and there. Every winner does. We have that mindset that we can achieve it. We also know there is a lot of hard work from now until the final in July.”

France players celebrate after a dejected Harry Kane put his second penalty of England’s 2022 World Cup quarter-final over the barView image in fullscreen

Gareth Southgate has had a number of fitness issues in the squad, with Kane among those to give him a scare. According to Thomas Tuchel, who was the Bayern manager at the time, Kane had a “complete blockade in his back” and was a selection doubt for the club’s Champions League semi‑final ­second leg against Real Madrid. Kane was substituted in the 85th ­minute and missed Bayern’s final two ­Bundesliga games. 

Kane returned as a 61st-minute substitute in England’s 3-0 friendly win against Bosnia and Herzegovina last Monday and played 64 minutes as a starter in the 1-0 defeat by Iceland on Friday. Southgate has included two backup strikers in his squad – Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney.

“I am all good,” Kane said. “The plan was for me to play 60 minutes against Iceland. It has been a really good camp for me personally in that sense. Getting a good week of ­training, 30 minutes [against Bosnia and Herzegovina], a few more days of training, then 60 minutes. I feel really prepared and in a good place.”

Southgate had to make tough decisions at the very last over his 26-man squad, the most ­difficult call being those to cut Harry Maguire and Jack ­Grealish. The former was based on the medical advice that Maguire, who is recovering from a calf injury, would not be fit until the last 16 at the earliest. The squad has 13 ­players with no experience of major tournaments. Twelve have been to at least two, with six players – including Kane – ­having gone to three or four.

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“I think we have more than enough experience,” Kane said. “Especially a lot of players who have played in two or three tournaments. There are always going to be new players, ­players who deserve to be here. We have more than enough. For the boys who missed out, it is really tough to take – for H [Maguire] especially, being injured. I know how much England means to him. It is sad to see them go but ultimately that is what you get playing for England. The manager has to take tough decisions.

“Everyone has earned the right to be here. That is what we have said. Everyone brings something ­different to the team and we are going to need all 26 players if we are going to be ­successful. That is the message – that we are together.”

Source: theguardian.com

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