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Gareth Southgate says Harry Kane should not be considered 'undroppable'

Southgate also praises Declan Rice for his attitude since switching association to England

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England manager Gareth Southgate confirms Harry Kane will start against Kosovo on Tuesday, but says no player is 'undroppable'

Harry Kane will be starting as usual against Kosovo on Tuesday, but England boss Gareth Southgate insisted his captain is not "undroppable".

Nonetheless, Southgate said Kane's impressive performances meant it would be a "rare occurrence" for him not to be in the starting line-up.

Kane scored a hat-trick in Saturday's 4-0 win over Bulgaria and seems to be back to his best having been hampered by injuries towards the end of last season, meaning he did not start the Nations League semi-final against the Netherlands.

"In the summer we decided that he wasn't ready to start, so I don't think you can have a player that is undroppable, because that is a dangerous route for any team and it is not a healthy position for a player," Southgate said. "But it is safe to say we won't be dropping him for tomorrow.

"His level of performance is so high that dropping him would be a rare occurrence."

England have no fresh injury concerns, but Southgate could make changes for the match at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium.

Kosovo are unbeaten in 15 games
Image: Kosovo are currently England's closest rivals in Group A

"We might freshen the team a bit, that will be important," Southgate added. "We don't need to, everyone is fit and available. We need to make sure we get the balance right.

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"We need to get the right attacking and defending profiles to make sure we win the game."

Kosovo have impressed in qualifying so far and are second behind England in Group A after beating the Czech Republic on Saturday.

Southgate added: "We are expecting a different sort of challenge to Saturday - but one we are looking forward to.

"It will be a very different style of game. Kosovo will be very high pressing, hard working, a more attacking threat than we faced on Saturday.

"Maybe there will be more space to play up front. Whatever we learned from Saturday's game this is a completely different challenge."

Rice 'has dealt with everything maturely'

Southgate also praised midfielder Declan Rice - who has revealed that threats were made against himself and his family after switching allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England.

Having represented the Irish team at youth level and won three senior caps, earlier this year the 20-year-old announced his attention to switch to the country of his birth.

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Southgate says he feared Declan Rice would get abuse for switching his international allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England but believes he has dealt with it 'incredibly maturely'

Rice won his fourth England cap in Saturday's win and the change of nationality did not go down well with some, leading to some vitriolic online abuse.

Southgate said: "When I spoke with Declan about the possibility of him transferring association across, I was very conscious that this was something that could happen.

"That is why I wanted to tread very carefully, to make sure him and his family had all the time they needed to make a decision.

"I never pushed, because I suspected that this would be part of the consequences of that.

Mason Mount and Declan Rice
Image: Declan Rice (right) was again a key man for England on Saturday

"I think he has dealt with everything incredibly maturely.

"He just wants to focus on his football and I think he has been a really excellent addition to our squad, in terms of his ability but also his mentality and personality.

"He fits the mould of so many of our team. They are desperate to improve, they are desperate to maximise their talent."

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