England manager Gareth Southgate has welcomed comparisons between Harry Kane and Ballon d’Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, insisting there is no better finisher than the Tottenham striker.
Kane has scored 11 goals in his last seven games for club and country and is set to spearhead England’s attack as they aim to clinch a World Cup place in their two qualifiers, starting next week.
“It is great we talk about Harry Kane in the company of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He is a different player: Harry is an out-and-out No9; they are attacking forwards,” said Southgate.
“I don’t know a better finisher at the moment. He has a real hunger and wants to be the best player in the world. Some do not have the commitment with their lifestyle, but he does.”
Southgate has included Kane’s Spurs colleague Dele Alli in his 26-man squad despite the possibility that he will be banned before England host Slovenia on Thursday 5 October.
Alli is under investigation from governing body Fifa for making a middle-finger gesture during this month’s win against Slovakia. He has argued that it was aimed at teammate Kyle Walker, not referee Clement Turpin.
“We run the risk of being a shambles because he might have to be withdrawn. We hope common sense prevails,” Southgate added.
“Old people make mistakes, so young people will do. Hopefully something like that will not happen again.”
Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster and Manchester City utility man Fabian Delph have been recalled to the squad for the matches against Slovenia and Lithuania.
England need one point from the two games to clinch their place at next summer’s finals in Russia.
England squad to face Slovenia and Lithuania:
Dele Alli, Ryan Bertrand, Jack Butland, Gary Cahill, Aaron Cresswell, Jermain Defoe, Fabian Delph, Eric Dier, Fraser Forster, Joe Hart, Jordan Henderson, Phil Jones, Harry Kane, Michael Keane, Jesse Lingard, Jake Livermore, Harry Maguire, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Pickford, Marcus Rashford, Chris Smalling, Raheem St