Southgate saw no need to pick Kane up after World Cup penalty woe

By Sports Desk March 18, 2023

Gareth Southgate saw no need to lift Harry Kane after the striker's penalty miss sent England out of the World Cup.

Kane missed a spot-kick late on against France in the quarter-finals, having previously beaten his Tottenham team-mate Hugo Lloris from 12 yards in a thrilling clash that Les Bleus won 2-1.

Yet that failure has not seemed to disrupt Kane's fine season with Tottenham. The 29-year-old has scored 10 goals since the season resumed, with his latest coming against Southampton on Saturday.

And Southgate never felt he had to "pick up the phone" to his captain, who matched Wayne Rooney as England's record goalscorer with his successful penalty against France.

"I don't think it's a big hurdle really," Southgate said of Kane, who has been named in England's squad for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine.

"I had a good chat with him while we were away. I sent him a message before he went back to his club and then I took a step back and had a look at how it was, and I haven't really felt the need to pick the phone up.

"It is there in his performances for Spurs. Sometimes you can busy yourself and look for a pat on the back by getting in touch with a player but I can't take any credit for what he's done."

Kane became Spurs' leading goalscorer in the club's history when he netted against Manchester City in February, surpassing the great Jimmy Greaves.

"What I've observed is a player still super-confident, still ready to perform, still hungry to score goals," Southgate continued.

"He's obviously gone through the personal landmark with Spurs and then there's this one that he's going to nail with us at some point.

"I actually spoke to him earlier this week, but I've been able to take a step back and let him get on with it. Sometimes there's no need to interfere."

Other players who have overcome a setback while on England duty to thrive at club level this season are Arsenal's Bukayo Saka and Manchester United star Marcus Rashford.

Both enjoyed strong World Cups, having failed to score from the spot in the penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in the final of Euro 2020.

Saka has scored 10 goals and assisted a further nine in the Premier League for leaders Arsenal, while Rashford has netted 27 times for United.

"[He] makes me smile. You feel a warmth," Southgate said of Saka.

"You feel a fabulous human being who has broken his way into the team at Arsenal at a time they weren't playing so well – and excelled. Now here they are pushing for the title – and he's excelling again.

"He's recovered from the obvious setback with us. He has the warmth of the fans with him who can see what he's about, can see the genuine nature of his personality.

"He's a top player. He's more and more of a goal threat, he's creating chances, he is totally reliable without the ball. He's a proper team player. I can't speak highly enough of him."

On Rashford, Southgate enthused: "You can see the confidence. He is benefiting from the environment at the club.

"He's in that flow that every player and athlete wants to be in. You can't remain in it forever and you have to try to get back into it when you are out of it, but he is definitely in that moment and he must feel super-confident."

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