Hodgson backs Kane to lead England

Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane is in “pole position” to succeed Wayne Rooney as England’s main striker, manager Roy Hodgson said, while casting doubt on Theo Walcott’s prospects of leading the line against Estonia in Friday night’s Euro 2016 qualifier.

Kane scored 31 goals for club and country last season, but has netted just once in 11 appearances for Spurs this campaign, although he has scored in each of England’s last two Euro 2016 qualifiers, against San Marino and Switzerland.

Rooney is out of England’s final two qualifiers with an ankle injury, and although Walcott also wants to play as a central striker, it appears Hodgson prefers Kane and will continue to play the Arsenal forward out wide.

“This is a big opportunity for him (Kane),” Hodgson told reporters.

“He’s got a good career ahead of him, so it’s nice he’ll get an opportunity. With Wayne out, he’s in pole position,” the manager added.

Walcott, who has played mainly on the right wing in his career, has impressed in a central role for his club this season, scoring 12 goals in his last 14 Premier League starts.

Hodgson says he hopes Walcott, who missed the 2014 World Cup with a knee injury, can show the same kind of form for his country.

“I don’t think it’s a big debate whether he (Walcott) starts up the centre or on the right or left. What we’re asking him to do is what he does for Arsenal with Alexis Sanchez,” the 68-year-old said.

“Since coming back from the latest injury and having a chance to start a few games for Arsenal, he’s shown the qualities he has.

“We hope he does for us what I’ve seen him do for Arsenal,” Hodgson added.

England have already qualified for next summer’s finals in France, winning all their eight games so far. They travel to face Lithuania on October 12 after the Estonia game at Wembley.

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