Harry Kane finding goals easier as England captain
By James Dale
Last Updated: 17/06/18 8:04pm
Harry Kane says he is scoring even more goals in training since being appointed England captain.
The 24-year-old Tottenham striker will lead England in their Group G opener against Tunisia on Monday on the back of a season in which he has scored 46 goals in 53 games for club and country.
Kane joked Cristiano Ronaldo has put him "under pressure" in the race for the tournament's Golden Boot by scoring a hat-trick in Portugal's first game, but the England skipper is feeling even more confident since being handed the armband on a permanent basis.
"I'm enjoying it for sure," said Kane. "Not a lot changes, I'm still the same person, same team-mate. I've obviously just been maybe scoring a few more goals in training. I'm proud to be captain and excited to get going.
"Hopefully I'll continue that into this World Cup for sure."
England were knocked out in the group stages in Brazil four years ago, just months after Kane had broken into the Spurs first team as a regular, having previously spent much of his career out on loan.
He has scored at least 30 goals in each of the campaigns since and is now aiming to prove himself on a global platform.
"I was watching it [the 2014 World Cup] on holiday," said Kane. "I played the last six or seven games of the Premier League under Tim Sherwood and then Mauricio Pochettino came in that summer and got me fit, got me in better shape - more powerful.
"I kicked on from there really - a lot of hard work, a lot of determination, there were players ahead of me at the time. It was always about working hard on the training pitch and whenever I got the opportunity to make sure I took it.
"The last few years have been amazing - each year improving, feeling better and just excited to be here on the bigger stage. I can't wait to get out there and show the world what I've got."
England's squad arrived in Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, on Sunday but decided not to train inside the stadium before the game.
Manager Gareth Southgate said the players were aware of the history of the city, a World War II battle site which saw millions die as Russian soldiers fought German forces.
The England boss said the city's landmark memorial (The Motherland Calls, which overlooks the Volgograd Arena) is a reminder that "some things are even bigger than football, and that's good perspective for us all".
British police have said they are not expecting any trouble involving the 2,500 England supporters that have travelled for the game, despite pre-tournament concerns around fan safety.
Kane believes the players' active social media presence has helped improve their rapport with fans, and Southgate hopes those efforts, along with an FA initiative to better relations, has helped to remove unfair stigmas.
"That connection with our supporters is really important, there's been lots of perceptions about our players for a long time and I don't think that's been the truth," Southgate said.
"It's been really good for our public to see how much it means to the players, to see a different side of their personality.
"Of course, in the end it's about how we perform and how we play in this tournament.
"But there's a bigger picture as well for us in that with a young group of players, who I think are going to be together for a long time, it's important that people see the enthusiasm and hunger that they have to play for their country."