Kane de­ter­mined to keep scor­ing de­spite both club and coun­try suf­fer­ing dips in form

Num­bers still stack up for the Eng­land cap­tain in a vi­tal sea­son that may de­cide his Spurs fu­ture

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football -

CHIEF FOOT­BALL WRITER in Sofia

Seven goals in five Euro 2020 qual­i­fy­ing games for Eng­land, in­clud­ing that hat-trick against Bul­garia in March, and seven for Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur this sea­son – once again the num­bers stack up for Harry Kane, although they tell just a small part of the story.

In Sofia last night, Eng­land’s cap­tain con­ceded that the club he re­turns to this week find them­selves in a “tough pe­riod”, ninth in the Pre­mier League and al­ready 13 points be­hind lead­ers Liver­pool. In June, Kane was one game from a Cham­pi­ons League win­ners’ medal, although there was never a time in Madrid when it ever looked like it might be close, and now Spurs seem fur­ther away than ever.

This is, you feel, a cru­cial sea­son in the ca­reer of the striker who emerged from nowhere five years ago and now, with ev­ery goal he scores, seems to be pass­ing an­other au­gust name from Eng­land’s past in the all-time goalscor­ers’ list. His penalty in Prague on Fri­day took him be­yond Bryan Rob­son and level with David Platt on 27 and one more will take him to 11th, along­side Steve Bloomer, an emi­nent Ed­war­dian whose goals you will not find on Youtube.

Kane’s was a rare stand­out per­for­mance in the 2-1 de­feat by the Czech Repub­lic that put the brakes on Eng­land’s qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign, for his ju­di­cious use of the ball and two eye-catch­ing passes to Raheem Ster­ling, one in each half.

His abil­ity to play the ball first time, or hold it and draw the foul will be cru­cial against Bul­garia again and, aside from Spurs’ de­feat by Brighton be­fore the in­ter­na­tional break, the goals have flowed steadily for his club as well.

Where Kane finds him­self at the end of the sea­son will be in­trigu­ing, as he leads Eng­land into a Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship played mostly at Wem­b­ley while re­flect­ing on whether, turn­ing 27 in July, he can stay for an­other re­build at Spurs. As he gets bet­ter each sea­son, that ques­tion gets trick­ier.

They are strug­gling, with Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino giv­ing con­flict­ing sig­nals about his fu­ture and the job of re­plac­ing key play­ers such as Chris­tian Erik­sen and Jan Ver­tonghen. Where that leaves Kane is an­other ques­tion.

‘We al­ways say when­ever we come into the Eng­land camp, club foot­ball moves to one side’

He was re­luc­tant to dis­cuss Spurs’ form other than to say that it is “not quite hap­pen­ing for one rea­son or an­other”, although the in­ter­na­tional break has hardly been a respite after Fri­day’s de­feat.

He is not the only player to have come from a club strug­gling for form, with the Manch­ester United and Ever­ton con­tin­gents also in stum­bling teams. Eng­land’s per­for­mance was so poor against the Czechs that it did prompt the ques­tion as to whether that Pre­mier League form was a fac­tor.

“I think we have made it as easy as pos­si­ble with Eng­land,” Kane said. “We all get on so well and al­ways say when­ever we come into the Eng­land camp, club foot­ball moves to one side.

“But your own form and from your per­sonal point of view, you kind of just look back on the other Eng­land games and that is what I try to do. We won the last four [be­fore Fri­day], so from that as­pect my team is do­ing well.

“The club, I don’t fo­cus on un­til after Mon­day night, but for now, it is Eng­land and, yes, we have had a slip-up, but we are look­ing to put that right.”

One more goal will earn him the post-war Eng­land record out­right for most goals as the cap­tain of the team. He is on 20 – the same num­ber scored by Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney after they had been given the arm­band. He will be cap­tain when he re­turns to Spurs in the ab­sence of the in­jured Hugo Lloris and ev­i­dently he likes the role. What kind of cap­tain is he? Kane says that he tries to lead by ex­am­ple, “not get­ting too down when you lose a game, not get­ting too high when you win games”.

He added: “It is a long old sea­son for club and coun­try ahead – so there are go­ing to be tough pe­ri­ods. We are in one now as a club, hope­fully we can win Mon­day night for Eng­land and that will make Fri­day night less im­pact­ful and then I will go back to Spurs and take that in my stride.”

The cap­taincy could be cru­cial in the Vasil Levski Sta­dium if judg­ment has to be brought to bear on racial abuse from the stands.

As for the form of the team and for Kane at Spurs, the re­quire­ment, as ever, is that he keeps scor­ing goals. Were those to dry up, then both club and coun­try would be in trou­ble. Kane says he al­ready knows pres­sure. “I have been in high-pres­sure sit­u­a­tions be­fore in my ca­reer, whether that is go­ing through goal droughts, play­ing in high-pres­sure games or not play­ing well as a team.” It is al­ways there, although he has long since learnt he has to find a way to score goals in teams strug­gling for con­fi­dence.

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