Saturday 19 October 2019

Kane plans to make amends by hitting the heights in Russia

Tottenham striker keen to banish the memory of Euro 2016 with successful World Cup

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane needs to score four goals against Leicester City today to stand a chance of winning the Premier League’s Golden Boot. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane needs to score four goals against Leicester City today to stand a chance of winning the Premier League’s Golden Boot. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA

Gerry Cox

Harry Kane says he cannot wait for the World Cup to begin - and claims he will be better prepared than he was at Euro 2016 in France two summers ago.

The Tottenham striker goes into today's game against Leicester needing to repeat the four-goal haul he hit against them a year ago if he is to overtake Mo Salah for the Premier League's Golden Boot.

Kane starts the day on 28 goals, three behind the Liverpool man, and although he has scored four times in his past six games, he has not looked the same since rushing back from an ankle injury six weeks ago.

But he says he will be fresher and more experienced going into this summer's World Cup than he was two years ago, when he had a disappointing tournament as England crashed out to Iceland.

Kane had barely rested in two years, having played every game in England's European under 21 campaign the previous summer, and looked tired at Euro 2016.

But now he says: "I think this summer I will be fresher. That was my first tournament, so there were a lot of emotions and expectations, just that feeling of getting to know what it would be like. Having that experience will help as well and I definitely feel better this time."

He and his Tottenham team-mates have looked jaded in recent weeks, but qualified for the Champions League for the third season running when Kane's goal beat Newcastle last Monday.

That was his 43rd goal in 51 games for club and country this season.

"Obviously I had a good rest last summer. This year has been a tough year, with all the competitions we played in.

"But I'm feeling good. I'm feeling like anyone would at this stage of the season but there is plenty of time to recover and get ready for the World Cup."

Kane pays particular attention to his fitness and diet, and will not let up in the coming weeks. Tottenham's season finishes today and he said: "We get a week off before we meet up with England and I'm going to go away with my wife and relax. I'll tick over, obviously, not just going to have a week without doing anything but it's more about relaxing mentally, playing a bit of golf and spending some time with my wife - she'll want that.

"Then we'll meet up with England and have four days together, prepare for the friendlies and get ready."

Gareth Southgate names his squad this Wednesday ahead of friendlies against Nigeria and Costa Rica before flying to Russia on June 12.

Kane says his experience from two years ago will help. "At the time you think you are doing everything right, but who knows? The main thing for me is to make sure I prepare well, recover well, make sure I'm stretching, eating the right stuff and just giving myself the best possibility to play well. You get a bit of time before games, maybe three or four days. It's not like a week between each game."

He knows expectation will be high, both of him and England. "It's the World Cup and you can't expect to go without any pressure. Every team faces it and we are no different. The difference is that this year we have a younger team, a more inexperienced team, so maybe the expectation is not so big.

"But Russia is still important. We have to try to prepare and do our best and see what happens."

The 24-year-old's earliest World Cup memories are from 2002, when England lost in the quarter-finals to Brazil. "I remember [losing to] Brazil after going 1-0 up, and a few other games." England beat Argentina with a David Beckham penalty after Michael Owen was fouled by Mauricio Pochettino, now Kane's manager. "Ha, the gaffer's foul," he laughs. "The 2002 World Cup was my first real memory so it is really exciting to experience it for myself.

"The Euros is big but the World Cup is the next step. It is probably the biggest competition in sport and I'm just excited to be in it."

Before that he wants to end the season on a high. "Getting 30 league goals is definitely the aim. I always try to improve every year and it was 29 last year so to reach 30 is important.

"The Golden Boot is still there but who knows? It is good that the pressure is off so hopefully we can go and play freely and score a few goals. We'll try to do the same as last year. (Kane scored four in a 6-1 win at Leicester last May). It is about getting to that 30-goal mark for me."


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