England boss Gareth Southgate grateful to have ‘elite level’ striker Harry Kane
Poland will be without top goalscorer Robert Lewandowski for their trip to Wembley on Wednesday but England boss Gareth Southgate insists there will still be a world-class striker on display.
A knee injury has sidelined Lewandowski, preventing a showdown between the Bayern Munich striker and England talisman Harry Kane.
The pair both captain their respective nations as well as providing the main goal threat, Kane hitting 33 goals in 52 caps and Lewandowski weighing in with a record 66 in 118 caps for Poland.
Lewandowski has been in lethal form for club and country this season, racking up 47 goals in 42 appearances but will be missing as Poland face England in a World Cup qualifier.
England sit top of Group I having won their opening two games but face their sternest test so far on Wednesday – even if the visitors are without their key man.
There have been plenty of comparisons drawn between Lewandowski and Kane – who has 28 goals in 47 games so far this campaign for England and Tottenham – and Southgate believes the pair are at a similarly elite level.
“I think the two are similar in that, I think Lewandowski is also very good with his ability to assist and there are not many outright number nines in the world at the moment at the really elite level,” he said.
“(Romelu) Lukaku is obviously one. The two boys we’re speaking about are. I suppose (Sergio) Aguero has been.
“But you don’t get that profile of forwards so often, there’s a lot more of the interchangeable forward players that can play as an inside forward or a wide forward and be devastating in those areas, like Kylian Mbappe, who can play number nine but is normally just as effective in those wider areas.
“They’re difficult to come by and when you’ve got one like we have, it gives you a reference point, can lead the line, can link and as we said the other day, not just top goalscorer in the Premier League but top for assists as well, it’s a fantastic player to have in our group.”
Kane himself admitted last week that Lewandowski is an inspiration for his own career.
But, while the Pole has collected 20 winners’ medals across his spells at Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, Kane is yet to lift a trophy during his career.
While that has led to speculation Kane may look to leave Spurs in the near future in an attempt to break that duck, Southgate is pleased with how his captain leads the England squad forward.
“What’s pleased me about Harry this week is that he’s been super positive about everything,” he said when asked about Kane’s future at club level.
“His view of where the club are at, they’re three points off a Champions League place, League Cup final to look forward to.
“That’s the only thing he’s discussed with me. From our point of view, he’s led the group really well again this week.”
Kane had gone 16 months without an England goal before he headed them ahead in their 2-0 win at Albania on Sunday to take him within 20 goals of Wayne Rooney’s all-time record.
“I’m pleased that he’s got his goal,” added Southgate.
“I know it shouldn’t matter but I remember when Alan Shearer was with me as a player and those months without matches add on to that period where you’ve not scored an England goal sounds a lot worse than it is at times.
“It’s good that he was able to bury that. He was very unfortunate with the one that came off the underside of the bar as well.
“So he’s in a good place, he’s physically in a good place and we’re pleased to have him ahead of the game against Poland.”