England squad announcement: will Hodgson pick Harry Kane?
Prolific English striker expected to get his first call up for Euro 16 qualifier against Lithuania
England manager Roy Hodgson announces his 30-man squad for this month's European qualifier against Lithuania today and one of the new names on the list is expected to be Tottenham striker Harry Kane,
The 21-year-old has scored 26 goals this season – more than any other English striker – and the media is as one in predicting his first call-up to the senior squad for clash at Wembley on March 27.
It should be a gentle introduction to international football for Kane, against a side not expected to trouble the runaway leaders of Group E. England top their rivals by six points with Lithuania one of three teams (along with Switzerland and Slovenia) on six points after four games of the qualifying process for next year's European Championships in France.
Hodgson was effusive in his praise of Kane when asked recently if he was in his thoughts for the Lithuania game. "Of course he is," replied the England manager. "I think he's got the qualities that you're looking for in a centre forward. If you can be a star at a top team like Tottenham at the age of 21 then you're doing pretty well."
The Times says that Kane's emergence this season, along with the presence of the in-form Wayne Rooney, the rejuvenation of Danny Welbeck since he joined Arsenal and the return of Daniel Sturridge from injury, "represents by far the strongest crop of centre forwards of Hodgson's tenure".
Whether this can be translated into success at Euro 16 remains to be seen, particularly given the Three Lions' dismal record in the tournament in which they have never reached the final. Nonetheless there is a youthful confidence emerging in Hodgson's squad, and Sky Sports says among other young strikers hoping to hear their name read out by Hodgson are QPR's Charlie Austin and Burnley's Danny Ings. Neither has been capped but as Sky Sports says, the pair have "found the net on a regular basis in teams struggling to avoid relegation."
In contrast, Manchester United winger Ashley Young is hoping for a recall, 13 months after the 29-year-old won the last of his 30 caps. "I will never shut the door on England until I am too old," said Young, who's shown glimpses of his old form this season at Old Trafford. "I am just concentrating on things (at United) but if selected then of course I will be delighted. It is always an honour to pull on an England shirt and getting back in the squad would obviously be nice."
Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph claims that Hodgson may omit some of Liverpool's players from the squad "in a move that could anger rival Premier League clubs". The paper says that the England boss may rest Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana which, if true, could leave him open to charges of favouritism given that he once had a brief spell as manager of the Reds. Liverpool are in a battle for Champions League qualifying places and the likes of Arsenal, Southampton and Manchester United might question his reasoning.