Gareth Southgate believes Harry Kane could return in time to captain England in the Nations League

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Tottenham striker Harry Kane could miss the Champions League final but still captain England in their bid to win the Nations League, according to Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate.

The 25-year-old has not played since injuring ankle ligaments in the first leg of Spurs’ Champions League quarter-final win over Manchester City.

Kane, who won the Golden Boot at last summer’s World Cup, has missed the end of the Premier League season with Tottenham but is hoping to be fit for their European showpiece with Liverpool.

That game takes place in Madrid on June 1, just five days before England face Holland in their Nations League semi-final.

Kane was included in an initial 27-man squad for the tournament named by Southgate on Thursday, with the final group of 23 to be confirmed on May 27.

“Frankly, we will know a lot more about that if he is in Tottenham’s team,” he said of Kane’s current fitness level.

Asked if Kane needs to play in the Champions League final to be considered for international duty, Southgate replied: “Not necessarily because they might take a view that (Lucas) Moura scored a hat-trick (in the semi-final) and Son (Heung-min) played well so they keep Harry as an impact player.

“So without talking to Mauricio (Pochettino), I don’t know what his thinking on that will be. I guess that depends on how Harry trains in the build-up to the game.

“So no, I don’t think it is an absolute he has to play there or he is not ready four days later.

“Equally he could play in the final and not be right four days later for us, we are just going to have to play it by ear because he is not going to have had a game prior to that point.

“Where there are one or two others we need to know a lot more about in the next week, he is one I will make an exception for in that I will see how it goes in the final week.”

Kane is one of nine players from Tottenham and Liverpool who could potentially be involved in the Champions League final and go on to link up with the England squad in Portugal for the Nations League.

Southgate admits the all-English final presents a new challenge to his man-management and judging the mental state of those who play at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano.

“It is a unique situation,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I guess the Spanish manager would have had that over a period of time in the past and there will be others that have had to deal with it.

“That’s a test of our management skills and our collective spirit as a team.

“It’s the biggest challenge of all to compete against each other, then leave that at the door and remember with England we are a team, we support each other.

“That’s been a massive strength for us over the last 18 months.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Three lesser-known facts about new Indian football team head coach Igor Stimac

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The Indian football team have a new head coach and there’s more to him than meets the eye.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Wednesday officially unveiled Igor Stimac as Stephen Constantine’s successor after the Englishman chose not to renew his contract that expired in January following the Asian Cup 2019 campaign in the UAE.

Stimac has enjoyed a fine playing career that saw him feature in English football for six years while also being part of an excellent Croatia team.

Apart from a short stint as coach of his country’s national team, his managerial career has largely involved helping struggling sides. However, he did begin with a Croatian league title at Hajduk Split.

HE WAS LINKED TO LAMPARD’S JOB

A year ago, Derby County fans had just about had it with then manager Gary Rowett who – soon after the Rams’ playoff campaign ended in defeat – requested permission to approach Stoke City regrading their vacant managerial post.

The club’s support yearned for a passionate character to lead their side and Stimac fit the bill. The former Derby defender was a fan favourite and an integral to the side between 1995 and 1999. In 2009, he was voted into a fans’ greatest ever XI by readers of the Derby Evening Telegraph. He even has an exclusive lounge named after him at Pride Park.

In fact, the club’s official fan group even urged the hierarchy to appoint Stimac following his Facebook post addressing the links in which he said: “Maybe the time has come to go back home.”

Of course, it was Frank Lampard who was handed the reins instead and surely they can’t have any complaints.

Igor Stimac

HE HAD A HIT SINGLE IN CROATIA

As if the thrill of being a professional footballer in the Premier League and a full international wasn’t enough, Stimac transitioned into the music industry soon after retiring. He was a vocalist and guitarist for ‘The Bohems’ and had a hit single ‘Mary and Katie’.

That he was part of Croatia’s first golden generation that finished third at the 1998 World Cup in France may have aided the song’s popularity but it remained number one on the charts in the country for four months.

“I think the sales were really down to Croatia doing well in the tournament rather than my voice,” Stimac – who also opened two discotheques of his own – joked.

Igor Stimac was part of the 1998 Croatia World Cup side

MAVERICK

In 2000, Stimac plied his trade at West Ham but being an active player didn’t keep him from starting his own company around the same time. Although, the company went bankrupt five years later.

His family meanwhile is in the business of manufacturing olive oil and wine, so he briefly indulged in that as well.

Despite having a year left on his West Ham contract back in 2001, Stimac decided to return to his boyhood club Split. In doing so, he accepted just £50,000 from West Ham to terminate his deal and negotiated a pay cut of £750,000 to join the Croatian club.

The 51-year-old was also a candidate to take over as president of the Croatian Football Federation but lost the elections to Vlatko Markovic.

Colourful character: Igor Stimac.

Colourful character: Igor Stimac.

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Southampton's Nathan Redmond named in England squad for Nations League finals

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Southampton’s Nathan Redmond is the surprise name in England manager Gareth Southgate‘s initial squad for the Nations League finals.

The Three Lions boss named a 27-man group ahead of this summer’s inaugural finals in Portugal, although he will need to cut the group down to 23 by May 27.

Unsurprisingly there are no uncapped players in Southgate’s selection, but there is a shock call-up for Redmond.

Overlooked since winning his one and only England cap in March 2017, the 25-year-old scooped the Player of the Year double at Saints’ end of year awards after a fine campaign.

England captain Harry Kane has been selected by Southgate despite an ankle ligament injury, while Harry Winks has also got the nod after groin surgery.

There is no place for Ruben Loftus-Cheek after sustaining a nasty-looking ankle injury playing in a friendly for Chelsea on Wednesday, while fellow midfielders Declan Rice and James Ward-Prowse are involved again.

Jesse Lingard and Joe Gomez return to the squad, while Luke Shaw and James Tarkowski are left out.

Southgate believes Redmond deserved his return to the England fold after the winger scored nine goals in the second half of the season.

Speaking at a press conference, the England manager said: “I think he finished the season really well. I think the new manager has had a positive effect: a lot of pace, playing the high press and has started to score more regularly.

“It is a really good opportunity for Nathan.”

Southgate also explained his reasons for including Kane and Winks, despite the Tottenham duo currently being sidelined by injury.

“For the likes of Harry Winks, he deserves to named in the initial squad. It is a case that he hasn’t played for a couple of months so we will have to see,” Southgate said.

“That’s (Kane’s fitness) one of the unknowns. He’s working to be fit for the (Champions League) final. We are keeping that door open. We are going to look post-Champions League final. There is the physical aspect and emotional aspect of that final that we have to look at.

“I don’t think we have had a time where we haven’t had a lot of pullouts but we have a really strong squad. We will know more by that date (May 27) but we can make changes after that date.”

Kane makes the squad, despite being injured.

Kane makes the squad, despite being injured.

Southgate was positive in how the impact of his players featuring in the Champions League and Europa League finals can have on his team in the future.

He said: “In the long-term for England, it’s brilliant. All of these experiences are what this team hasn’t had before.

“It’s been an incredible couple of weeks for English football and we are looking forward to continuing that.”

The exclusion of Manchester United left-back Shaw raised a few eyebrows.

But when asked if it was a tough choice, Southgate said: “No. Ben Chilwell and Danny Rose have been excellent for us so they are ahead in the pecking order. But it gives us a lot of good options.”

The England manager also added that Chelsea pair Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi would have been selected if they were fit.

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