As I wrote the title for this piece, I was filled with a great image of Harry Kane as the lead singer of some Who tribute act. No, I’m not sure why I was thinking that either. And its not My Generation, but ‘The Kids are Alright’ that Harry Kane would be belting out as he leads the next wave of English hope onto the international stage. With his rise to stardom, Harry Kane has become a favourite not alone at White Hart Lane but possibly the most likeable guy in the game at the moment. He just doesn’t look like a modern footballer, does he?
Well, he is. He’s a very good one at that. Subtlety to his play that many of his contemporaries are short on and such a lethal finisher, I naturally want to be critical of this as a bubble that will be shortly burst and Kane will return to a nomadic career around relegation battles and high-level Championship clubs. It is impossible not to be swept along in the Kane hype and for good reason. No wonder Spurs fans are so keen to declare him as one of their own. Kane is not just a striker like Daniel Sturridge or Saido Berahino but a proper centre forward and its hard to pick out a weakness in his game right now.
The standard talk of a move to Real Madrid – seemingly part of the protocol for any succeeding Tottenham player – has been floated around in the less intelligent parts of the media already. Kane is, as you would expected, staying grounded and has a certain humility in his interviews that was last seen in Gareth Bale. Stick with Spurs for a few years yet Harry, his career fittingly seems to be on his way to becoming a full England international and the critics (are there any of you still out there?) are running out of legs to stand on. He’s embarrassed Chelsea and led a comeback in a North London derby, there is no case for calling Kane a flat track bully, and I am as certain as any that he will succeed on the international stage if given the right opportunity.
Kane’s route to the England starting line up is resoundingly blocked by Daniel Sturridge, who seems to be getting better the longer he is injured, we should be looking at Kane as one of the first on the team sheet for years to come in the England side and his all round game lends itself to the great amount of quality England have coming up in the positions around him. These kids are alright.
The whole squad, for me, needs a revamp. We have waved goodbye to the previous generation that fostered so much hope, the next group seems very limited and haven’t had the experience because of the over playing of Lampard and Gerrard’s era. England have the opportunity to fully invest time in a new up and coming set of players who are already earning themselves plaudits at Premier League level. From back to front, these ‘kids’ need time and patience to be nurtured, but its hard to see Roy Hodgson as the man to take that gamble with his own win percentage. Led by Kane, there is a rare sense that England have options around the squad and a great deal of talent along with it.
In goal, we have Fraser Forster providing a significant challenge to Joe Hart’s number one jersey with Ben Foster still churning out performances at West Brom. At right-back there is Kyle Walker returning to fitness and has a defensive game that he was so lacking earlier in his career, hopefully his availability can finally spell the end for Glen Johnson. Nathaniel Clyne has arguably been the best right-back in the league so far this season with the pace to compensate for inevitable defensive mistakes at his age and an eye for an overlap. Left-back is still a position that no-one seems capable of nailing down. Leighton Baines’ god-like image has finally been seen through and his World Cup performances showed his defensive capability isn’t there for the top level. Then we have Luke Shaw, blighted by injury in 2014/15 and surely the long-term occupant of the position we would expect to see him in the squad, surely? Well, not so simple. Aaron Cresswell has been one of the signings of the season and has proved greatly effective in both halves for West Ham this season whilst Kieran Gibbs and Ryan Bertrand will still harbour hopes of an international career.
Clyne, Walker, Shaw, Cresswell
This brings us smoothly onto the competition for places at centre-back. Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka are the current incumbents yet I would be tempted to leave both out of the next squad. Jagielka always sluggish and has been part of a leaky Everton defence whilst Cahill has been a liability at times for Chelsea and recently been pushed out of the side for Kurt Zouma. John Stones has to be starting for England and the longer that Chris Smalling or Phil Jones are getting selected ahead of the Everton ball player the more I despair with international football. Eric Dier needs a chance after impressive displays for Spurs and this reflects the attitude England need to be taking to their next squad selection, not planning on qualifying for the next Euros but picking players who will be starting at the next World Cup and give them chance to develop.
Stones, Dier, Chambers, Jones
The midfield is a debate to be had in my next column. So expect more of the same with three years time in mind and giving England a shot at winning in 2018 rather than focusing on making it on an unimpressive run to the quarters in 2016.