Former England midfielder Chris Waddle is backing Daniel Sturridge and Harry Kane to make a major impact at the Euro 2016 finals in France.
Sturridge confirmed his return from a hip injury with a double in Liverpool’s 3-2 Barclays Premier League victory over Aston Villa on Saturday, while hours earlier Kane had belatedly opened his club account for the season with an assured finish in Tottenham’s 4-1 win against Manchester City.
It’s good to have two centre-forwards who are possibly going to be available and hopefully perform which again, it gives you confidence to say, ‘We’ve got two goal scorers here’Chris Waddle
England boss Roy Hodgson will hope to have both Sturridge, 26, and 22-year-old Kane, who scored as a substitute in last month’s qualifiers against San Marino and Switzerland to help secure a place in France, available to him for the finals, and Waddle believes the pair could have significant roles to play.
The 54-year-old, speaking as he promoted a charity match for Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Sturridge is a key player - if he’s fit. He’s probably our best centre-forward, let’s be honest, at this minute in time, but it’s all a question mark, isn’t it? Can he stay fit? Can he do it?
“Harry Kane is a young talent, scored a good goal on the weekend, but I think he’s finding it a little bit harder this year because he’s a marked man now after last year. Everything he hit last year went in and, let’s be honest, this year they’re not going in.
“He scored a good goal on Saturday - maybe that will start the ball rolling. But to get what he got last year, it would be a massive achievement, I’ve got to say, so we’ll just see how he fares in the season.
“But it’s good to have two centre-forwards who are possibly going to be available and hopefully perform which again, it gives you confidence to say, ‘We’ve got two goal scorers here’.”
England have in recent years qualified comfortably for finals tournaments, and then not performed when they have got there, and having booked their passage to France before any other nation with the minimum of fuss, the challenge now is to make an impression when it matters most.
Waddle said: “Straight away you knew that England would win that group - I think the Under-21s would have won it.
“I don’t think it’s a group where you can say you’ve had a severe test, or where you’ve actually gone into a game and thought, ‘This will be really close and it’s going to be really tight’. You just think England would win every game, which they basically have.
“For me, it’s all about France when you get there. You come up against quality, better quality teams who have won groups, and that’s when you get judged.
“It’s like the World Cup in Brazil - we qualified quite comfortably, but when we got to Brazil, we were poor and it just didn’t happen. That’s what it’s all about, the tournaments are where you pick the prizes up, not the qualifying.
“Yes, you can only beat what’s in front of you and all the cliches and whatever, but for me, it’s all about the tournament next June and let’s see how we get through and let’s see how far we can go.
“Let’s just see what happens and if we get as far as we can, great. If we can win anything, fantastic. But we’ll judge our country and the national team on the day we get over to France.”