England boss Gareth Southgate has insisted that he never doubted Harry Kane and Harry Maguire during the pair's rough starts to the season at club level.
Kane has bagged just once for Tottenham this season but fired home three times in England's 5-0 win over Albania, with Maguire's headed goal also offering him some temporary respite after a tricky few weeks at Manchester United.
For Kane, it was an emphatic response to his last showing in an England shirt, a dismal outing in the 1-1 draw with Hungary that saw him substituted, but Southgate said he always believed Kane would get back among the goals soon enough.
“Form is always temporary,” Southgate said (via The Times). “What pleased me most was his all-round performance. We know he’s going to score goals. I liked the way he was aggressive in his hold-up play and running in behind. His link play was on song.
“We had good movement around him, particularly from Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden. We’ll make a decision on the team on Monday. There are a few thousand England fans going to San Marino. We’ve still not qualified for the World Cup. We want to put a performance on.”
The boss also took the chance to defend Maguire, whom he praised for hurrying back from injury to help out United.
“He’s been a fabulous player,” Southgate continued. “He’s been rushed back from injury. You get lots of players who hide in the treatment room.
“I’ve got massive respect for him. You know you can go into a game not 100% fit and you’re always judged as if you’re fit. He understands that. I had a huge chat with him earlier in the week. His performance tonight was very good.”
England have not yet booked their place at the 2022 World Cup but need just a point against famous underdogs San Marino when the two sides meet next week to seal a spot in Qatar.
Kane added: “The pressure was on us a little bit as we needed to get this result, coming off the back of the last game when we didn’t finish as we wanted to. I can’t credit the lads enough. It’s a great way to get closer to qualifying.
“Whenever you pull on an England shirt, you want to do everyone proud. Everyone was ready for this one. We came out on fire and got the three points.”
Source : 90min