Euro 2020 qualifiers: Harry Kane insists England stars are 'too united' to be divided by club rivalries of Premier League

Agence France-Presse
England captain Harry Kane insists the Three Lions' squad are too united to be divided by the tension of club rivalries surrounding the Premier League title race and upcoming Champions League ties.

London: England captain Harry Kane insists the Three Lions' squad are too united to be divided by the tension of club rivalries surrounding the Premier League title race and upcoming Champions League ties.

Four English sides have reached the last eight of the Champions League for the first time in a decade with Tottenham striker Kane set to face a host of international teammates who play for Manchester City three times next month in two legs of a quarter-final and a vital Premier League match.

City and Liverpool are vying for the Premier League title, while Spurs face competition from Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea for a top-four finish.

However, unlike England camps of old where club rivalries led to factions forming on international duty, Kane believes Gareth Southgate's squad will not be distracted ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers against Czech Republic on Friday and away to Montenegro on Monday.

"We put that to one side, even the Liverpool and City boys. When we are here it is 100 percent England and when we go back I'm sure there will plenty of text messages and group messages flying about," said Kane on Tuesday.

"We've got a great bond here and at the end of the day we are good friends.

"Whether we play for one club or another, when we come here we get on very well.

"Of course when we are back at our clubs we try 110 percent to try and beat each other but we have that respect for each other that we can talk afterwards and be friends."

After a run to the last four of the World Cup last summer and qualifying for the Nations League semi-finals to come in June, England are one of the favourites to win the European championships next year.

Wembley will host the semi-finals and final of that tournament, while England will also play their group games on home soil should they qualify.

And Kane admitted that is extra motivation as the qualifying campaign gets underway on Friday.

"It is a great incentive to have the opportunity to play in a European Championship where we could have quite a few games at Wembley," he added.

"It is exciting. People expect us to qualify and they think it is going to be an easy group but it is never that easy.

"We have to go and be professional. Of course we back ourselves to go through but we still have to go and do it. It is important we start well and hopefully build on that."

At 25, Kane is one of the senior members of Southgate's squad with Declan Rice and Callum Hudson-Odoi winning their first call-ups to add to a growing pool of young talent.

Rice has switched his allegiance to the country of his birth after playing three times for the Republic of Ireland in friendlies.

Kane also had the chance to represent Ireland via his paternal grandparents, but said he never considered anything other than playing for England.

However, he believes no one can blame the West Ham midfielder for his decision.

"I'm sure it was a tough decision," said Kane.

"He seems like a great lad and enjoying his football and he's been having a great season.

"I'm sure he took his time and the decision he made is what he thought will be best for his future and nobody can blame him for that."

Kane welcomes great expectations on England


England should embrace their new-found status as one of the favourites for a major tournament, believes captain Kane.

The Three Lions open their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign at home to the Czech Republic on Friday fresh from a run to the last four of the World Cup last summer and with another semi-final to come in the Nations League in June.

"I think we feel that expectation where people now expect us to do well and I think before the World Cup there was no expectation. It is great that we have turned that around," said Kane on Tuesday.

"I think we've handled it really well since the World Cup. I think we're the only team who got into the semi-finals at the World Cup to have got through their Nations League groups, and we had probably one of the hardest groups.

"I think that was big for us, to prove to everyone that it wasn't just a one-off. That this team we are really building for something special in the future."

England's chances of winning a major tournament for the first time since 1966 next year will also be boosted by having the majority of their games at Wembley.

Both semi-finals and final will be held at the home of English football, as well as at least two of England's group games should they qualify.

"We know the chance to play a Euros where most of the games are at home is an amazing opportunity and you don't often get that in your career so we will try and make the most of it," added Kane.

Despite Tottenham's faltering form of late, Kane has scored four times in five games since returning from a five-week injury layoff due to ankle ligament damage.

And the World Cup Golden Boot winner thinks he is "in the zone" in front of goal ahead of a massive three months for club and country with Spurs set to face Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals and in a battle for a top-four Premier League finish.

"I never want to be injured, but I had that break while I was injured and I've used that to make sure I'm fresh now," he added.

"I feel in that zone, where if I get a chance, I'm going to put it away. You go through spells like that during the season.

"Since I came back from injury, I feel like I'm sharp with a lot of energy, and that's when I feel I'm at my best."

Kane's latest goal in a 2-1 defeat at Southampton was the 200th of his career, but at just 25, he hopes he can follow the example of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi by maturing into an even more prolific goalscorer late into his twenties.

"Nowadays with everything, sports science, I feel the prime can be a bit later.

"Maybe 28 to 30, that's maybe when you're going to be in your prime. If you keep yourself in shape €"- Ronaldo and Messi have proven that. I've still got a little bit to go.

Also See: Euro 2020: West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice receives first England call-up after switching international allegiance

Euro 2020 qualifiers: Callum Hudson-Odoi, James Ward-Prowse receive England call-ups after spate of withdrawals

Premier League teams in Champions League final could affect England ahead of Nations League SF, says Gareth Southgate

Read more on Sports by Firstpost.