Harry Kane is ready to break the all-time England goalscoring record in his team’s opening Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy, manager Gareth Southgate said on Wednesday.
Tottenham striker Kane is locked with Wayne Rooney on 53 goals for his national team after missing a penalty in England’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to France.
But Southgate says he has put that disappointment behind him coming into Thursday’s Group C clash in Naples.
“We’ve seen with his performances and goalscoring with his club he’s put it behind him,” Southgate told reporters.
“I know he’s going to have added motivation tomorrow night to come back and show everybody what he’s about in an England shirt. For us that’s a good position.”
England have a poor record against the world’s top sides and Thursday will be an acid test against the team that snatched Euro 2020 triumph from them at Wembley before dumping them down to the second tier of the Nations League.
“We’ve been involved in some of the biggest matches in world football, they know the level that’s required, they know they have the ability to compete at that level,” Southgate added.
“Whatever we’ve done in the past is irrelevant tomorrow night, because we have to start again and have the humility to work hard to qualify again, and it’s a great fixture for us to get that underway.
“Italy didn’t qualify for the World Cup but they still have some outstanding players and they will be highly motivated as well.”
West Ham midfielder Declan Rice said that narrow defeat to France in Qatar hasn’t discouraged England from aiming for the major tournament success which has evaded them for nearly six decades.
“I think if we look at ourselves after that France game, we took a lot of positivity from the game even though we lost,” said Rice.
“I think as a group of players there was a real belief in the room that we can compete with the best but it’s down to us now to go that one step ahead—beat a top nation, and win a trophy.
“That’s all that’s on our mind, starting tomorrow night, trying to beat Italy and starting our campaign off well.”
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