Southgate: Kane to start but not 'undroppable'

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England manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed Harry Kane will start against Kosovo on Tuesday, but is adamant his skipper is not "undroppable".

Tottenham striker Kane scored a hat-trick as the Three Lions eased to a 4-0 Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Bulgaria on Saturday.

It comes after he had to settle for a place on the bench in the Nations League semi-final against Netherlands after missing much of the latter stages of last season through injury.

Southgate plans to make changes for the game at St Mary's but says Kane's quality makes it difficult for him to be left out and he will resist the temptation to rest him for what will be the first ever meeting between the two nations at senior level.

"In the summer we decided that he wasn't ready to start, so I don't think you can have a player that is undroppable, because that is a dangerous route for any team and it is not a healthy position for a player," Southgate said. 

"But it is safe to say we won't be dropping him for tomorrow.

"His level of performance is so high that dropping him would be a rare occurrence.

"We might freshen the team a bit, that will be important. We don't need to, everyone is fit and available. We need to make sure we get the balance right.

"We need to get the right attacking and defending profiles to make sure we win the game."

Southgate is wary of the threat posed by a second-placed Kosovo side who have already defeated Czech Republic in Group A.

He added: "We are expecting a different sort of challenge to Saturday - but one we are looking forward to.

"It will be a very different style of game. Kosovo will be very high pressing, hard working, a more attacking threat than we faced on Saturday.

"Maybe there will be more space to play up front. Whatever we learned from Saturday's game this is a completely different challenge."

Southgate, meanwhile, gave praise to midfielder Declan Rice for the way he has dealt with social media abuse directed towards him and his family after switching international allegiance to England from the Republic of Ireland. 

He said: "When I spoke with Declan about the possibility of him transferring association across, I was very conscious that this was something that could happen.

"That is why I wanted to tread very carefully, to make sure him and his family had all the time they needed to make a decision.

"I never pushed, because I suspected that this would be part of the consequences of that.

"I think he has dealt with everything incredibly maturely."