Harry Kane deserves to start for England

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Roy Hodgson named his 23-man squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifying fixtures last week, and since then, five players have withdrawn including Liverpool's injury ridden Daniel Sturridge.

With that in mind, is this Harry Kane's chance to show what he's made of on the international stage and start upfront with Wayne Rooney against Lithuania on Friday?

It's fairly obvious to anyone with even half a brain cell that Lithuania shouldn't pose a problem to England on Friday night, so surely this is Hodgson's chance to give the inform Tottenham Hotspur striker an opportunity at the big time.

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Sturridge withdrew from the squad this week with a hip and thigh injury, and Danny Welbeck hasn't exactly been banging in goals consistently for Arsenal this season. Kane on the other hand is the equal top scorer in the Premier League with 19 goals - on par with Chelsea's Diego Costa - so to not start him alongside England's talismanic captain would seem like a chance missed.

A man who Kane has been compared to for is his physique and playing style is former England captain Alan Shearer, who firmly believes the 21-year-old striker has earned his chance.

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"Harry Kane has already shown he has the ability to be a top Premier League striker, but it is his attitude that will help him make it at international level too," Shearer told BBC Sport.

"Yes, there was an arrogance about what Kane said over the weekend about him wanting to play for England now, and not just be part of the squad. But it was a good arrogance.

Shearer also said: "Even before Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge pulled out because of injury, I said that Kane should start against Lithuania in Friday's Euro 2016 qualifier."

What makes Kane's remarkable rise to the top of the scoring charts even more impressive is that he only began starting regularly for Spurs' senior team in November last year, when the Premier League's crème de la crème strikers - Costa, Aguero, Sanchez etc - had already been playing for the best part of two months.

The only other English player who has racked up the goals as rapidly as Kane is young QPR striker Charlie Austin with 15, without whom QPR would be even worse off than they are currently in the Premier League; in 19th position and with only 31 goals from 30 games.

The only problem I see for the Kane/Rooney partnership is the lack of raw pace. With Welbeck or Sturridge upfront you have natural speed and players who can play on the shoulder of the centre-backs, just waiting for that slicing pass that sends them on the way toward goal.

Kane, however, like Shearer did in his day, lacks that burst of speed that can take him half-a-yard beyond his marker, and this is where the system he works in at Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino comes in.

His relationship with Denmark international Christian Eriksen has blossomed slowly over the course of the season, to the point now where Kane scoring with an assist from Eriksen has become almost a weekly deal.

It has taken a while, with much criticism from fans, but now the system seems to be working and working well, Spurs are slowly but surely ascending the Premier League table towards the all important fourth Champions League spot.

The way to get the best from Kane is not just the work of Rooney linking the midfield with attack, but the wing play from Raheem Sterling, who assumedly will start, and whoever is on the other side; be it James Milner, Theo Walcott or Andros Townsend.

Kane demands service, either from out wide or through the middle which makes it imperative that his teammates remember this and get the ball into him at every conceivable opportunity. The vast majority of Kane's Premier League goals this season have come from inside the 18-yard box, including penalties, making service to him inside the box even more important.

Another tactic England have been bashed and lamented for in recent months, and in the World Cup last summer in Brazil, was their tendency to launch it long up field if no immediate option appeared to be on.

Luckily for England, with Kane upfront, they do have the option of using this tactic with more chance of success than with Sturridge, due to Spurs man's bullish strength and ability to control the ball under pressure in tight situations.

That isn't to say they should do it all the time, but it at least it adds another bow to the quiver that Hodgson can fire at Lithuania if it comes to the point, with so called 'minnows', where they park the metaphorical bus and it becomes near impossible to get through the defence.

England must work the system that fits Kane on Friday, providing he does indeed start against Lituania, otherwise it's a waste of time calling up the north Londoner in the first place.

We must hope that in the five days since the last round of Premier League fixtures, Rooney and Kane have managed to develop the same sharp connection that Eriksen has with him which has worked so well for Spurs so far in the second half of this season.

Do you think Harry Kane should start for England on Friday?

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Tottenham Hotspur
Alan Shearer
England Football

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