Southgate: Kane to start but not 'undroppable'

Harry Kane will not be among the changes England boss Gareth Southgate plans to make for Tuesday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Kosovo.

England manager Gareth Southgate says Harry Kane's quality makes it difficult for him to be left out and he will resist the temptation to rest him for Tuesday's clash against Kosovo.   -  Getty Images

England manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed Harry Kane will start against Kosovo on Tuesday, but is adamant his skipper is not "undroppable".

Tottenham striker Kane scored a hat-trick as the Three Lions eased to a 4-0 Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Bulgaria on Saturday.

It comes after he had to settle for a place on the bench in the Nations League semifinal against Netherlands after missing much of the latter stages of last season through injury.

Southgate plans to make changes for the game at St Mary's but says Kane's quality makes it difficult for him to be left out and he will resist the temptation to rest him for what will be the first ever meeting between the two nations at senior level.

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"In the summer we decided that he wasn't ready to start, so I don't think you can have a player that is undroppable, because that is a dangerous route for any team and it is not a healthy position for a player," Southgate said. 

"But it is safe to say we won't be dropping him for tomorrow.

"His level of performance is so high that dropping him would be a rare occurrence.

"We might freshen the team a bit, that will be important. We don't need to, everyone is fit and available. We need to make sure we get the balance right.

"We need to get the right attacking and defending profiles to make sure we win the game."

Southgate is wary of the threat posed by a second-placed Kosovo side which has already defeated Czech Republic in Group A.

He added: "We are expecting a different sort of challenge to Saturday - but one we are looking forward to.

"It will be a very different style of game. Kosovo will be very high pressing, hard working, a more attacking threat than we faced on Saturday.

"Maybe there will be more space to play up front. Whatever we learned from Saturday's game this is a completely different challenge."

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Southgate, meanwhile, gave praise to midfielder Declan Rice for the way he has dealt with social media abuse directed towards him and his family after switching international allegiance to England from the Republic of Ireland. 

He said: "When I spoke with Declan about the possibility of him transferring association across, I was very conscious that this was something that could happen.

"That is why I wanted to tread very carefully, to make sure him and his family had all the time they needed to make a decision.

"I never pushed, because I suspected that this would be part of the consequences of that.

"I think he has dealt with everything incredibly maturely," he said.

- England are the best side in the world , says Kosovo boss Challandes -

Kosovo boss Bernard Challandes has dared his players to dream of producing an upset against England, who he labelled as the best team in the world.  World Cup 2018 semifinalist England has won all three of its Euro 2020 qualifiers ahead of Tuesday's visit of Kosovo at St Mary's Stadium, scoring 14 goals and conceding one.

Kosovo also enters the match in good form thanks to an unbeaten 15-match run, but Challandes is fully aware of the size of the task facing his side in Southampton.

"We are Kosovo and we are here against one of the best teams in the world - in my opinion the best team in the world," he said at Monday's pre-match news conference.

"I think it is in my philosophy that if we don't dream it is unnecessary to play such games, we should dream and do all that is possible to disturb England," he said.

Kosovo was only accepted as a UEFA and FIFA member in 2016 and the side has gone nearly two years since last tasting defeat. Challandes' side has drawn two and won two of its Group F qualifiers and is on the second place, sitting one point adrift of England which has a game in hand to play.

"We are a young federation - never have we played against such an opponent," Challandes said on the eve of the top-of-the-table clash.

"For me as a coach it is not easy to have a good mix for the evaluation of this game.

"If I say, 'We come to win', I think a lot of people think that is pretentious. If I say, 'It is not possible to win against England', I must change my job.

"Never did we think after four games that we play for the first place here in England.

"It is clear for me it will be a very, very hard game but it is a possibility for our very young team to show what is a very, very high level."

Challandes insisted his side will not sit back and defend against England. "Harry Kane and Sterling and [Marcus] Rashford and, and, and, and, and..." he said.

"For me it is a wonderful team but I have only this way in my head - I don't want to say to my team, 'Okay, we stay in our own half and defend, defend, defend'.

"I hope we can play and be an opponent, not a big opponent but and opponent with intensity," he said.

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