Harry Kane will have “added motivation” against Italy on Thursday as he bids to break Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record, says Gareth Southgate.
Kane has scored 53 goals for England, equal with men’s record holder Rooney.
The Euro 2024 qualifier in Naples is England’s first match since their World Cup quarter-final defeat to France, in which Kane missed a late penalty.
“We have seen in his performances for his club he has put it behind him,” manager Southgate said.
“I know he will have added motivation tomorrow night to come back and show everyone what he is about again in an England shirt.”
The match in Italy marks the start of England’s qualification campaign for the next major tournament in Germany the summer of 2024.
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After reaching the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020, where they lost to the Italians, England are among the favourites for the tournament but Southgate said their past results will be “irrelevant” on Thursday.
“We have to have the humility to work hard and qualify again,” Southgate said.
“It is a great fixture to get that under way.”
Forward Marcus Rashford, goalkeeper Nick Pope and midfielder Mason Mount pulled out of England’s squad with injury but Southgate said the rest of his 23-strong squad are fit to face Italy, who themselves missed out on qualification for the World Cup after winning Euro 2020.
Security has been much talked about in the build-up with a friendly match between England and Italy fans called off over safety concerns.
Last week, eight football fans were arrested after violence flared between Eintracht Frankfurt and Napoli supporters before and after their Champions League match.
Southgate played down the issue, saying he was “excited” to travel to the city.
“I have never been to Naples before and the history of football here is really rich,” he said.
“I am excited about playing in a city that loves football, with a great history.
“I can just about remember [Diego] Maradona when they [Napoli] won the league.
“Always we ask our fans to be good tourists and respect the local culture and we hope the game and the next couple of days passes with no problems.”
Italy to remember Vialli in latest England ‘clasico’
Italy will wear a special message on their shirts for Gianluca Vialli, a member of Roberto Mancini’s coaching staff, who died at the age of 58 in January following a battle with cancer.
“[It will be] very emotional,” said Italy manager Mancini.
“It’s the first time we have played a game since Luca’s passing. We were very fortunate enough to have him as a teammate and a player.”
He added: “He is immortal and people like that will always be near to us.”
Mancini believes the fixture between his side and England has become “a bit of a clasico” over recent years.
The two nations are set for their fourth meeting in two years following the Euros final and home and away fixtures in last season’s Nations League group stage.
Mancini also rejected the idea of trouble at the game, saying “it’s always been the away fans that have come here and caused problems”.
“We saw that in the Champions League,” he said.
“If people come here and behave then I don’t think we have to think of anything like that.”
The former Manchester City boss added: “I’ve played in Napoli many times with the national team and its always been a great crowd. We want the crowd behind us from the word go. We need to produce a performance to take them with us.”
Phil McNulty, chief football writer in Naples:
Southgate arrived in Naples stressing how his squad have reset after another major tournament disappointment and revealed their determination to cross the final barrier to success.
The qualification road to Euro 2024 in Germany will start in the atmospheric and hostile surroundings of Stadio Diego Armando Maradona against Italy on Thursday, opponents keen on their own swift rehabilitation after failing to qualify for the World Cup.
Italy are playing their first game in Naples for a decade, a decision met with much fanfare when Mancini met the media here, where the occasion was celebrated with presentations from the city’s mayor Gaetano Manfredo with Napoli’s club president Aurelio De Laurentiis also in attendance.
And there is a feeling the game is being played in this city, seething with excitement as Napoli run away with Serie A and challenge for the Champions League, to create an environment as difficult as possible for Southgate’s England and enable Italy to get off to a flying start.
Southgate, however, has confidence his players can start with a good result in what may shape up as their most difficult game in the group.