By Mike Collett
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane and Burnley’s Danny Ings are set to be called up by England for the first time when manager Roy Hodgson names his squad next month for internationals against Lithuania and Italy.
Hodgson, holding a media briefing, was full of praise for both players, who have impressed him with a series of outstanding performances for their clubs, and gave the strongest indication that they would be called up.
Kane, 21, has scored 23 goals for Spurs in all competitions while Ings, 22, has hit nine for Burnley, who are battling relegation from the Premier League.
He scored 26 goals for Burnley in the league and cup last season when they won promotion from the second tier.
Hodgson, looking ahead to the March 27 Euro 2016 qualifying tie with Lithuania at Wembley and a friendly with Italy in Turin four days later, also said he had no plans to employ captain Wayne Rooney in the central midfield role he has been playing for Manchester United.
Describing Kane’s impact, Hodgson said: “Playing games is important and if you can be a star in a top team like Tottenham at the age of 21 you are doing pretty well – Harry’s only problem now is to keep that going for the next 13 years.
“The question might be ‘is he worthy of a place ahead of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck or Daniel Sturridge?’
“Well that is something he will have to prove, and unless I give him a chance in the squad we will never know.”
Hodgson has been aware of Kane’s qualities for some time as he has played 10 times for England’s Under-21s over the last two seasons.
Yet the manager admitted he has come a long way in that time.
“Eighteen months ago Harry was not a starter in the Under-21s,” he said.
“He came on and he scored if I remember correctly, but there is no doubt he has moved on enormously since then.”
He also said that Ings, who has played seven times and scored four goals for the Under-21s, had impressed him this season.
“We have the best of both worlds,” the manager said.
“Sometimes we have had to split centre forwards… this one is the target and that one isn’t much of a target but does run behind the defenders.
“But with Harry and Danny you’ve got the best of both – both can do both jobs.”
Although they may get their chances next month, Rooney, now England’s third highest scorer with 46 goals, remains Hodgson’s first choice in attack even though he has been playing for United in midfield for much of this season.
Asked if Rooney would play in a deeper role for England, Hodgson replied: “We will only use him in the position that suits the England team best and I don’t know that that would be centre midfield.
“He has been playing there for Manchester United because they think that’s where he does his best job for them… but I don’t think that would be his best position for us and I don’t have any immediate plans to be play him there,” he said.