Saturday, July 13, 2024

Harry Kane addresses fitness concerns ahead of England’s crunch Euro 2024 semi-final

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Harry Kane has declared he is “getting better and sharper”, saying he has become accustomed to “question marks over my fitness or my form” throughout his career ahead of England’s Euro 2024 semi-final against the Netherlands.

England’s campaign has seen constant discussion over the captain’s physical condition, with another early substitution against Switzerland leading to calls that Ivan Toney comes in for Wednesday’s semi-final in Dortmund.

Kane came into the tournament after picking up a back injury during the final weeks of the season with Bayern Munich, and there have been questions over whether he has been able to press to the level required for England’s gameplan.

Ahead of facing the Netherlands, the striker dismissed such concerns as typical of the noise around the campaign, and insisted he is ready to start while pointing to a wider role in the team.

“It’s something I’ve got used to throughout my career,” Kane said. ”I think there are always going to be times… especially if you look over the last couple of major tournaments, there’s always been at some stage question marks over my fitness or my form.

“I think it is part and parcel of it. I always say I want to score in every game, I want to try and help the team in every game from that sense, but also my role isn’t just scoring goals.

“My role is a lot of work defensively, a lot of work without the ball, a lot of work in leadership. So of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I know everyone wants me to score three goals a game and I want to score three goals a game, but it’s not always the case.

“Maybe sometimes when I don’t score I think the fitness one is an easy one just to throw in now – ‘Why? Is there a reason? Is it his fitness? Is it not?’ But like I said before the tournament, I felt like I had a good preparation going into it, I felt like I’m getting better and sharper as the games go along.

“Ultimately it’s just down to me performing on the pitch. We have a semi-final ahead of us and of course I’d love nothing more than to score a couple of goals and get through to the final. So that’s what I’m trying to do, as always do my talking on the pitch and hopefully that can be tomorrow evening.”

Kane is of course one of England’s stalwarts under Gareth Southgate, and his inclusion tomorrow will mean he has played in all of the manager’s semi-finals.

He admitted the feeling around this one obviously isn’t the same as that first in 2018, and that England have instead developed an “aura” despite a lack of convincing performances. He still believes they can hit their “full potential” in the final stages of Euro 2024.

(The FA via Getty Images)

“All the tournaments have been slightly different,” the captain said. “ When you look back to 2018 I don’t think there was any expectation on us to go all the way to a semi final and we were just riding that wave of being in a new environment and creating new history.

“But step by step you start to become favourites before the tournament and you have to handle a different type of pressure. If you get knocked out in the quarter final or round of 16 there’ll be a lot more uproar than in previous tournaments.

“So step by step you grow into the tournament. As a team we’ve been clear that we haven’t hit the heights of how we want to play but I feel we’re getting better each game but we still haven’t reached the full potential that you’ve seen for several years now.

“But we’re still in a good place and we’re leaning on a lot of experience, we’re leaning on being here before, even just the perception from other teams – when you’ve been in finals, semi-finals on a consistent basis that gives you a certain aura as a team that other nations look at and that’s down to our own work.

“We’ve built that up over past tournaments and now we’re in a situation where we deserve to be because it’s not easy getting through any round of the tournament and we’ve found a way to do it. If anything it’s a chance for us to take another step on and show what we can do.”

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