Harry Kane confident he will hit top form at right time for England at World Cup

Three Lions take on Senegal in the last 16 on Sunday with their captain yet to score so far in Qatar

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Harry Kane is confident he is going to hit top form at the perfect time for England at the World Cup as they take on Senegal in the last 16 on Sunday.

The England captain has yet to score in Qatar, despite England hitting the back of the net nine times in the group stage, but did supply three assists for teammates.

Gareth Southgate's side topped Group B after thrashing Iran 6-2, drawing 0-0 with the United States and then comfortably defeating neighbours Wales 3-0.

Keane won the Golden Boot four years ago as England reached the semi-finals in Russia but five of his six goals came during the group stage.

Conversely, Kane had no goals at the end of the group stage of Euro 2020 last summer but then went on to score against Germany, twice against Ukraine and again in the semi-final win over Denmark before England lost the final on penalties to Italy.

Having experienced both sides of tournament football, Kane – who has 51 goals for England and needs three more to overtake Wayne Rooney's record of 53 – is keen to hit his stride at the right time.

“It probably goes back to 2018,” he said when asked about finding his form at the right time.

“In the World Cup, I felt like, just from a physical and maybe mental side of things, we started the tournament great, I started the tournament with loads of goals, used a lot of energy and as the tournament went on, I felt like my performances dipped in the latter stages.

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“I was conscious before the Euros of trying to make it the other way. Of course I still wanted to start well but I was trying to make sure that physically and mentally I was in the best place for the knockout stages.

“I carried it into this tournament. I would love to be sitting here with two or three goals now for sure but I think the group stage has gone well. Minutes-wise, it has not been too tough.

“I feel as match fit as I’m ever going to feel. Only time will tell. Hopefully I can do well tomorrow and come into the best form in these knockout games.

“Form-wise I feel like I have been playing well, goals are what I’m going to be judged on most but as always I’m a calm individual and always try to focus on the team and do my best for the team.

“I will continue to try to do that, if the goals come, great, it means it will give us a better chance of winning the game.”

Senegal qualified for the knockout stages for the first time in 20 years despite losing leading forward Sadio Mane to injury before the tournament but Three Lions manager Southgate said he was not surprised by their progress.

“Sadio is obviously an incredible player and every team would want to have him, but what we've seen with the team of Senegal is that they've become very strong in his absence,” he said.

“They have shown great spirit through losing him so we know that it doesn't make a difference to the level of the fixture for tomorrow.”

England are unbeaten against African teams in their 20 encounters but have never met Senegal, who were crowned African champions earlier this year under coach Aliou Cisse.

Senegal also have several players who ply their trade in the English Premier League and second-tier Championship, led by skipper Kalidou Koulibaly and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who both play for Chelsea.

“We've been very impressed. We know that they're African champions – very proud, great competitive spirit, a lot of belief in the team,” Southgate added.

“They have some excellent individual players who can cause problems – a good structure to the team as well. So I think Aliou has done a fantastic job.

“They were very unlucky not to qualify from the group in Russia [in 2018] and they've deservedly done it this time so we know exactly the size of the task ahead of us.”

Updated: December 03, 2022, 6:43 PM