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Harry Kane: England captain says outspoken pundits should remember what wearing England shirt is like

England face Slovenia in their final Group C game at Euro 2024 on Tuesday; Gareth Southgate's side must win to ensure they finish top of the group; Harry Kane called for calm, and is hoping the game in Cologne can be the Three Lions' springboard for the rest of the tournament

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Harry Kane has responded to criticism from some former players by asking them to 'take a step back' and remember the challenges of playing for England.

Harry Kane wants outspoken ex-England players to remember what it is like to wear the shirt.

Among the favourites to win this summer's European Championship, Gareth Southgate's sit top of Group C on four points heading into Tuesday's final pool match against Slovenia in Cologne. But, despite being all-but through with a match to spare, England's disjointed displays in the 1-0 win against Serbia and 1-1 draw with Denmark have seen the team come under intense scrutiny.

Former striker Gary Lineker labelled the display "s***" on his podcast, having said that Kane "needs to do a lot better", with fellow pundit Alan Shearer another critical voice.

"I would never want to be disrespectful to any player, especially a player who has worn the shirt and knows what it is like to play for England," skipper Kane said. "But what ex-players or ex-players who are pundits now have got to realise it is very hard not to listen to it now, especially for some players who are not used to it or some players who are new to the environment.

"I always feel like they have a responsibility. I know they have got to be honest and give their opinion but also they have a responsibility of being an ex-England player that a lot of players look up to that people do listen to them
and people do care what they say.

"The bottom line is we haven't won anything as a nation for a long, long time and a lot of these players were part of that as well and they know how tough it is, so it is not digging anyone out.

Harry Kane vs Denmark
Image: Kane has had his critics after his performances against Serbia and Denmark

"It is just the reality that they do know it is tough to play in these major tournaments and tough to play for England.

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"I would never disrespect any ex-player. All I would say is remember what it is like to wear the shirt and that their words are listened to. Some of the lads, I don't know how many, but we do hear it.

"We all want to win a major tournament and I am sure they want us to win a major tournament and being as helpful as they can and building the lads up with confidence would be a much better way of going about it."

Kane: I feel fresh and fit, but we've not played the way we wanted

England's Harry Kane, rigth, listens to manager Gareth Southgate after being substituted during a Group C match between Denmark and England at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, June 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Image: Kane listens to manager Gareth Southgate after being substituted against Denmark

Meanwhile, Kane says he is "fresh and fit" to play despite concerns, but adds that England have "not played the way we wanted" ahead of their final group game with Slovenia.

Kane missed Bayern Munich's final game of the Bundesliga season with a back injury, and some have questioned whether he is still carrying a knock after a sluggish start of Euro 2024. However, the Three Lions captain assured fans that he is ready and offered an insight into some of the tactics of his play so far.

"I physically feel fresh and fit," he told a press conference. "I know sometimes when I've had bad games, there's always someone looking for a reason why.

"It's a heightened environment in a tournament and there's been more chatter, but I feel fit and ready and I'll play for as long as the manager wants me to.

"My preparation [for the tournament] was pretty good. The first game I felt as fit as I have all season. I came off last game [against Denmark] but that was down to the manager wanting to freshen things up.

"Going into this knockout phase I want to feel 100 per cent, and I feel as if I'm there.

Image: Harry Kane scored his first Euro 2024 goal against Denmark, and was replaced in the second half

"Some games I will stay high, sometimes I'll drop in. As a team we're trying to find some fluidity, and we haven't quite clicked right. But we're all at a high level, that will come.

"Most importantly, with the ball we need to be better, keep the ball, play higher, and get in between the lines. That will come, but we need to go out and prove it. Hopefully that comes on Tuesday."

Kane went on to admit that he and his England team-mates have not performed at their best so far in Germany, but called for calm with them top of Group C heading into the final game.

"Momentum is the right word," the striker said. "Before the tournament if you said we'd be in a position to qualify after two games, we'd have taken it.

"We can be honest and say we have not played the way we wanted to up to now.

"Tuesday is important for the feeling of the group, for an all-round better feeling coming off the pitch and take that into the rest of the tournament. We want to finish top.

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Harry Kane was made an offer he could not refuse by a local journalist ahead of England's crucial Euro 2024 clash with Slovenia

"Calm is important. Most of us have been here and done it - we've given England fans some fantastic memories.

"After the tournament you can judge us. During the tournament, it's down to us to get it right, and find how to do it right. We want to try and find a solution.

"We know 99 per cent of England fans are behind us, but everyone has a right to have an opinion."

A win for England in Cologne on Tuesday would ensure they go through to the knockout rounds as group winners, and Kane hopes the team can use the match against Slovenia as a springboard for the rest of the tournament.

"We definitely want to win the group," he said. "It's not just to avoid [certain teams], but we want momentum in the knockout stages.

"We expect to finish top, but if we don't, it's not a panic. We want to put a marker down on Tuesday and use that for the rest of the tournament.

"We have a good environment where everyone talks openly and honestly. It's positive messages. We know the reality of where we are, but we also know we can improve and get better. The new or younger players are catching onto that pretty quick."

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