Tottenham striker Harry Kane has been named in the England squad for the first time for this month’s European Qualifier against Lithuania and friendly with Italy.
The 21-year-old, who has scored more goals than any other English striker this season with 26 in all competitions, is the only uncapped player called up by manager Roy Hodgson in a 24-man group.
Hodgson praised Kane for having scored 16 Premier League goals during his first full season in Tottenham’s first-team, but insisted he is not necessarily assured of a first start for this country.
“I think the whole country has been excited by his rise. He’s been fantastic since he broke into the Spurs team and it would be more of a surprise if he’d not been selected,” Hodgson told Sky Sports News HQ.
“He deserves his chance and I’m delighted to welcome him to the fold and help establish him. Like others he’s young and others have gone on to establish themselves, so hopefully he will too.
“Gary Neville was recently on a training course with Mauricio Pochettino’s assistant and spoke to him, and I’ve worked with Harry myself when I took the U21s a year or so ago. We know him and what he can do on the field is clear for all to see.
“When you’re in the squad you are good enough to play and you understand the coach thinks you’re good enough too, but there’s competition. We’ve done well since the World Cup, with six straight wins, and those players have done well, so it’s not a case of him saying ‘I’m here so step aside’. They won’t want to.”
Kane’s fellow striker Daniel Sturridge also returns to the squad having missed the previous five internationals through injury, and is one of four Liverpool players along with Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson.
Hodgson said: “His form is getting better and better. It takes a while after an absence to get your faculties back but I watched the game on Monday night against Swansea and there were very good signs his sharpness is coming back.”
Michael Carrick has also been picked despite not having played for England since October 2013 and there are also chances for youngsters Fabian Delph, Nathaniel Clyne and Andros Townsend.
Hodgson also explained why he had only selected two goalkeepers in the squad, with Stoke’s Jack Butland set to take up the third position next week.
“We regard Jack Butland as the gk in that position but the U21s have a game on Friday so we would prefer him, if nothing happens to the other two, to stay and play in that game.
“But he will be our third goalkeeper and come with us if something happens to them in training or in the game on Friday evening.”
Full squad: Fraser Forster, Joe Hart; Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Nathaniel Clyne, Kieran Gibbs, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker; Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Fabian Delph, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Raheem Sterling, Andros Townsend, Theo Walcott; Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck
England v Lithuania
Click here for the latest odds from Sky Bet
More h ——by @UC Browser