Football

Roy hits out at 'espionage'

PHOTO: REUTERS

"I hope they are not going to come and blame me if I don’t start with (Harry) Kane and (Wayne) Rooney and say, ‘We had it on your piece of paper’, because they shouldn’t be looking at it in the first place."

- Roy Hodgson, after he was photographed with a piece of paper (below) during training with Kane’s (above)  name on it.

Roy Hodgson refused to reveal if he would hand Harry Kane his England debut this weekend, despite evidence which suggested he would throw the young Tottenham striker straight into his starting 11.

Calls for Kane to start England's Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania on Saturday morning (Singapore time) intensified last weekend when he scored a hat-trick against Leicester to take his season tally to 29 goals.

Photographers watching Kane's first full training session with the squad on Tuesday seemed to stumble upon evidence that suggested the England manager would do just that.

During the session at St George's Park, they took shots of an England formation scrawled on a piece of paper which Hodgson had in his hand.

In the formation, which was for an attacking drill, Kane started up front alongside captain Wayne Rooney while Andros Townsend, Ross Barkley, Ryan Mason and Theo Walcott were named in a four-man midfield in front of centre backs Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.

Hodgson, clearly unhappy the pictures were taken, said the photographers' actions amounted to "espionage" even though they came from a part of the session which was open to the media.

And the England manager said despite what the piece of paper suggested, he still may not start Kane against Lithuania.

"That is dangerous to do that (assume Kane will start)," the England manager told talkSPORT.

"First of all, it is dangerous to spy on those things at a training session. The fact is that piece of paper is a piece of paper we take out to training because we have to select teams.

"I don't think it's right to suggest that in order to avoid this type of espionage, I have to remember everything I have thought about but we change people around quite often.

BLAME

"If that is what people want to read into the espionage, that is up to them, but I hope they are not going to come and blame me if I don't start with Kane and Rooney and say, 'We had it on your piece of paper', because they shouldn't be looking at it in the first place."

Regardless of whether Hodgson starts Kane or not - he clearly thinks the 21-year-old is a top-class player.

The England manager marvelled at Kane's progression this year and it is easy to see why he has been impressed.

Kane was written off after disappointing spells at Millwall, Leicester and Norwich. Some at Tottenham were not even convinced he would turn into a Premier League striker.

But he has muscled his way into Mauricio Pochettino's starting 11 and he has repaid him with 29 goals - the biggest total of any English player in the top flight.

Hodgson says the striker has a potentially long and bright future ahead of him, but the former Fulham manager admitted that he is concerned about the public placing too much pressure on his young shoulders too.

"It's fantastic what he has done," Hodgson said. "It's very tough for a young player to come into a top team like Tottenham with demands and expectations, and to shoulder aside people like (Emmanuel) Adebayor and (Roberto) Soldado and make the place your own, and then not just to play well and keep your place but score a lot of goals - that is some achievement.

"But I do really hope people in general will have a more reasonable approach and say: 'Let's give this guy a chance. He is going to have some good and bad games and hopefully he will have 10 or 12 years in the Premier League and England matches in front of him, let's not build him up to the best thing we have ever had or a flop on the basis of a month or two or a couple of games or so'.

"But I am delighted for him. If he gets his chance to play in these games, I am sure he won't let anyone down." - PA Sport.