Harry Kane chosen to captain England against Scotland
England manager Southgate keen to build a group of leaders within the squad
England manager Gareth Southgate with Harry Kane during a squad training session. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane will captain England against Scotland in their World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park as manager Gareth Southgate seeks to build a new group of leaders.
Southgate has so far declined to name a permanent captain of the team, breaking with a long-standing English tradition, but he believes Kane has the qualities for the role.
“Harry Kane will captain the side tomorrow. I’ve shared the leadership around and that has been important for us as a team.
“People have said that there is a lack of leaders in this team but I don’t think that is the case,” added Southgate.
“I have felt it important to give people the opportunity to lead in different ways. Harry is one of a number of people I could have given that opportunity to, a few others have done it already and I wanted to give him that boost,” he said.
The pressure put on the England captain in major tournaments may be one reason why Southgate is keen to share the duty around and he says there is no hurry to appoint an official skipper.
“At some point it will be important to decide. But more importantly to me, we are developing a group of five or six who are leaders in the group,” he said.
“I don’t feel any rush to do that. I think the most important thing, when we came in was to develop people, was to look at who can lead, who wants to lead, who can be encouraged more to lead and to take the pressure off if being the one person who has had all the expectation on, because I think that has been a problem for us in recent history,” he said.
Wayne Rooney was England’s captain when he held a regular place in the team and Chelsea defender Gary Cahill skippered the side for England’s March friendly against Germany in Dortmund.
Southgate said the 23-year-old Kane was delighted with the appointment.
“He was pretty chuffed. It is a great honour for any player and for their family, the significance of it wasn’t lost on him, that’s for sure,” he said.
Southgate said Kane had ended the season in great form but that he was constantly striving to improve himself.
“It is a good moment for him as a player – he finished the season really well. We know his mentality, we have worked with him for a long time, we know he wants to be one of the best in the world,” added the England manager.
Kane epitomises the spirit and attitude that Southgate says he wants to see from his young squad.
“We have several, more than several, players, a team, who aren’t where they want to be individually but have got great potential and we are starting to tap in to that,” he said. “There is a long way to go... but it is exciting, there is hunger and desire.”