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Saturday 21 October 2017

Rooney: Harry Kane is sizzling and will be an England star for years

England captain Wayne Rooney as Harry Kane (left) during a training session at the Enfield Training Centre, London
England captain Wayne Rooney as Harry Kane (left) during a training session at the Enfield Training Centre, London
England captain Wayne Rooney during a press conference at The Grove Hotel, Hertfordshire

Wayne Rooney has backed the "sizzling" Harry Kane to be an England star for many years to come.

Kane's extremely successful season will reach a new high on Friday if - as is expected - he makes his England debut in the Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley.

The 21-year-old started the campaign as third-choice striker at Tottenham, but just seven months later he has scored 29 goals and is now being compared to Alan Shearer.

Kane has been training alongside Rooney all week at St George's Park and at Tottenham's training base in Enfield.

And it is safe to say the Manchester United striker has been impressed by what he has seen from his fellow front man this year.

"It is great to see a young English striker come through, scoring goals," the England captain said.

"He was scoring goals earlier in the season in the Europa League and not starting in the Premier League.

"Then he got his chance in the Premier League and he has taken it with both hands.

"I hope it continues because he is in sizzling form at the minute.

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England captain Wayne Rooney during a press conference at The Grove Hotel, Hertfordshire

"If he does continue that (form) then he has a bright future."

There was a touch of nostalgia about Rooney's media briefing on the eve of the Lithuania game at the team hotel in Watford.

England fans remember how Rooney burst on to the scene in 2003, providing the only positive in what was an otherwise dismal defeat to Australia.

One year later he was hailed as one of the best on the planet at Euro 2004.

But now he is the mentor and it is time for Kane to take his chance to shine on the international stage.

"When it was my debut I wanted to get out there and play as quickly as I could and I'm sure Harry will be the same," Rooney said.

"He'll be lying in bed tonight hoping that he'll make his England debut tomorrow. I can imagine that. I know because I've felt the same feeling, the excitement he'll have tonight."

Eagle-eyed photographers spotted that Hodgson had paired Kane and Rooney up front on a formation written on a scrap of paper during training earlier this week.

The England manager insisted that did not necessarily mean he would start the youngster against Lithuania though.

Hodgson is fiercely loyal to those who have served him well in his two years at the helm and Danny Welbeck certainly falls into that category.

The Arsenal front man is England's top scorer in qualifying with five goals.

Hodgson was not giving much away on the night before the match.

"I can see (Kane) making his full senior debut over the course of these next two games. That is all I can give you," Hodgson said with a grin.

"Welbeck is still very much in contention as is Wayne Rooney and now of course we have Harry Kane, who has burst on the scene and we have seen (Raheem) Sterling playing up front so the choice is good.

"It's up to me to decide from that group of players which two or three we are going to use."

Hodgson once bemoaned a supposed dearth of English striking talent, but now he has the three options for this double-header, and Daniel Sturridge, who was "absolutely devastated" to miss the upcoming games through injury, the 67-year-old said.

England also have Saido Berahino, Danny Ings and Charlie Austin - who have scored 36 league goals between them this season - pushing to get into the squad and Rooney feels this is the strongest collection of forwards he has worked with during his international career.

"Without doubt," Rooney said. "Certainly over the last few years, we've got a talented group of strikers.

"Sturridge has come back recently after a long-term injury, Harry Kane has been doing well all season and scoring goals, Welbeck has been scoring goals, and myself - I've been scoring again since I've gone back up front. We're doing well, and we're fighting for those one or two places available up front."

Hodgson will assess Sterling after the game before deciding whether to release him for the Italy match.

James Milner could also return to Manchester City too as he has been playing with a knee problem, Hodgson revealed.

England can strengthen their position at the top of Group E with their fifth straight win.

Hodgson was coy on whether his team's form would be enough to earn him a new contract, but he got the unequivocal backing of his captain.

"Since I've worked with Roy, he's been fantastic for me and the team," Rooney said while sitting alongside Hodgson. "Hopefully they'll sit down and sort it out and we'll have a few more years with him."

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