Gareth Southgate lauds Harry Kane’s ‘intelligence’ for unique ability to drop deep and create

Harry Kane has thrived while dropping deep to create for both club and country

Gareth Southgate admits Harry Kane’s tendency to drop deep is not a problem but England must ensure they commit runners beyond the Tottenham striker to capitalise on his “intelligence”.

The Three Lions captain scored and assisted in the 2-0 World Cup qualifying win against Albania on Sunday.

And Kane’s performance saw him continue to drop into deeper spaces in a bid to release runners beyond, but despite not playing the position in a traditional manner, Southgate is happy with the 27-year-old’s role.

“I think different people will have different opinions of the game. I don’t know if for example Wrighty was doing the game, then Wrighty was always much better on the last line, running behind people, flying into the penalty box,” said the England boss.

“His link play was good but he was a different sort of player to Harry so he might have a different view of the role of a number nine, and there’s lots of different ways of playing it I think.


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“I think Harry senses the moment to drop deep to create space for others as well as to link the game and just give the defenders a different picture, a different problem to think about. In my view, his football intelligence is very good, and I think the key is if he’s dropping deep we’ve got to make sure we have runners in behind him, which we did with him a couple of times and with Phil a couple of times as well and Prowsey got in there a couple of times towards the end.

“I don’t think, in itself, that’s a problem. I think to mix the game up and give the opposition, different things to deal with is fine.”

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Southgate also labelled Kane as “elite”, grouping him together with Robert Lewandowski, who will miss Poland’s qualifier at Wembley through injury, as a part of a rare breed of forward able to create as well as score.

“I think the two are similar in that I think Lewandowski’s link-up is also very good and his ability to assist, so there aren’t many outright number nines in the world at the moment at that really elite level,” Southgate added.

“Lukaku is obviously one. The two boys we’re speaking about are, I suppose Aguero has been but you don’t get that profile of forward too often. There’s a lot more of the interchangeable forward players that can play as an inside forward or wide forward, and can be devastating in those areas like Mbappe, who can play nine but is normally just as effective in those wider areas.

“They’re difficult to come by and when you’ve got one like we have, that gives you a reference point that can lead the line can link and as we said the other day, not only the top goal scorer in the Premier League but top for assists as well. It’s a fantastic player to have in our group.”

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