Harry Kane said he hopes to break Wayne Rooney’s England scoring record “as soon as possible” as the striker prepares to lead his country into their World Cup Group B opener with Iran on Monday.
Kane, who won the Golden Boot as England reached the semi-finals in Russia four years ago, needs just two goals to match Rooney’s 53 and few would bet against him surpassing that mark in Qatar.
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Gareth Southgate’s England is so reliant on the Tottenham Hotspur forward for goals that it is fair to say their hopes of a deep run hinge on Kane maintaining his amazing strike rate.
“Hopefully (I’ll break it) as soon as possible,” Kane, whose 51 goals have come in 75 appearances, told reporters on the eve of England’s first ever clash with Iran.
“I know it’s there and I know people will talk about it but I like to just focus on my game. I know with the team we have we will create chances and I just need to be ready for the ones that come my way.
“I was lucky enough to play with Wayne and he was a huge player who I looked up to. I watched him play in the major tournaments and it’s a huge honour to be close to him.”
Kane scored six goals in Russia in 2018 when England’s run was stopped by Croatia in the semi-finals.
Aged 29, he knows that this tournament might also present his best opportunity to do what no England captain has done since Bobby Moore lifted the World Cup in 1966.
“You can’t take anything for granted in football, for sure,” Kane said. “I was lucky enough to play in the 2018 World Cup and had an amazing experience at a great tournament.
“I’m really looking forward to this one, we’ve got a really good blend of experience and youth. Who knows where I will be in four years time, or the team, so it’s about now.”
Southgate confirmed that midfielder James Maddison will not be available for the game on Monday in the Khalifa International Stadium with the Leicester City player still unable to train because of a knee injury.
Kyle Walker will also miss out although Southgate said the Manchester City defender was training with the team and was close to being ready for action.
Iran, who are 20th in FIFA’s world rankings, present a tricky opening test for an England side without a win in six competitive games and Southgate said it will require patience against Carlos Queiroz’s side.
“We’re very respectful of our opponents tomorrow,” he said. “We know that under Carlos in the last World Cup they were very organised against big opponents and difficult to play against. We’re ready for a strong challenge.”