Southgate still to pick World Cup captain

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Southgate still to pick World Cup captain

England coach Gareth Southgate is yet to decide who will captain the team at the 2018 World Cup as they close in on qualification.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane will lead England against Slovenia on Thursday, where victory will ensure them a place at next summer’s finals in Russia.

“We have several people that I think can step into that fold now – and that can only benefit us,” Southgate said.

Previous permanent skipper Wayne Rooney retired from internationals in August.

Southgate has rotated the captaincy since taking over from Sam Allardyce last November.

During his reign, Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has worn the armband on four occasions, Kane twice, with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill and West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart doing so one occasion each.

“It’s not just about the matchday – it’s everything around the camp, thinking how you integrate the squad and how you involve other people and the moments to step forward, leading by example, leading by having a quiet word with people,” added Southgate.

“There’s lots of things that go towards making a good captain. That won’t happen overnight, we’re talking about leadership experience that comes over a longer period of time.”

Kane, who scored 13 goals in eight games for club and country in September, said he was especially looking forward to leading his country at home after previously taking the armband on away trips to Glasgow and Paris.

“Growing up as a kid you always want to play for your country and dream about being captain, especially walking out at Wembley. That will be an amazing thing for me personally,” he said.

‘I want to make every day count’

Kane, 24, who spent periods on loan at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester before making a first-team place his own at Spurs, says that he is still not content.

“I never want to rest and be happy. The career is so short, I’m 24 now and I have to make the most of my time. Make every day count,” he told.

“I had seven or eight games last month, playing top teams week in week out.

“You don’t get much time on the training field so you have to be professional, eating well and recovering well, all those little things add up.

“You look at someone like Cristiano Ronaldo, who is getting to the age now where people think he should be slowing down, but if anything he is picking up.

“Look at his physical condition. I want to maintain my performance over a long period of time.”

With 41 goals for club and country so far in 2017, Kane has been mooted as a possible Balon d’Or contender.

And he says that social media keeps him constantly updated on where he stands against the game’s other elite goalscorers.

“After every game there is a new thing on social media about how many goals I have scored, how that compares to who in what league so it is hard to stay away from,” he said.

“Personally, I always know about my goals. If you tell me a game I can tell you if I scored, what chances I had. As a striker it’s something you do – remember the big things in games.”

Team news

With Dele Alli suspended for one match for a middle-finger gesture he says was aimed at team-mate Kyle Walker during September’s 2-1 win over Slovakia., Southgate has a vacancy to fill in midfield.

Manchester City pair Raheem Sterling and John Stones will be pushing for returns to the starting line-up after their side’s impressive start to the Premier League season.

Slovenia, who have to win to keep alive their chances of qualification, are without defender Miral Samardzic through injury. Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who has been linked with Juventus in recent weeks, is in the squad.

“Kane is in an extraordinary form. It will certainly be a tough battle with him, but we should not forget other players who are also very good,” captain Bostjan Cesar said.

Match stats

  • England have won four and drawn one of their five previous meetings with Slovenia, with their solitary draw coming under Gareth Southgate in October 2016.
  • England have won both previous matches against Slovenia at Wembley, winning 2-1 in a friendly in September 2009 and securing a 3-1 victory in November 2014.
  • England have lost just one of their last 18 matches at home, and none in the last eight, winning seven and drawing one.
  • Slovenia have lost just two of their last 11 matches in all competitions, winning five and drawing four.
  • Only Germany and Northern Ireland – who have both shipped two – have conceded fewer goals in European World Cup qualification so far than England, who have let in three.
  • Seven of England’s last nine goals have either been scored or assisted by Tottenham players.
  • Harry Kane is England’s top scorer under Gareth Southgate with five goals; more than twice as many as any of his team-mates.