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Gary Lineker says journalists were “stirring the pot” after Harry Kane was asked about being on the end of criticism from former England players.

Both Lineker and fellow ex-England captain Alan Shearer have been critical of Kane and his side’s overall performance after they laboured to a 1-1 draw against Denmark in their second Euro 2024 group game last Thursday.

Lineker labelled England’s display “s***” on his podcast, having said that captain Kane “needs to do a lot better”.

Kane hit back during a press conference on Sunday, saying  former players have a responsibility to keep their opinions in check as they have been part of England’s long trophy drought.

Lineker carried on the back-and-forth during the latest episode of the Rest is Football podcast, suggesting journalists were too scared to ask their own questions.

“Made the headlines again haven’t I? Because journalists being journalists, being a bit tricky in these things and trying to wind up our footballers,” he said.

“We’ve been critical of England’s performances, as has pretty much every journalist, but you know how it happens.

“We’ve talked about this a few times before, about journalists not being brave enough to ask their own questions.

“I guarantee whoever that was was probably critical themselves. They do it a) to stir the pot and b) because they’re too scared to ask a question from their own selves.

“It puts Harry on the spot. I thought he answered it fine.

“There was one bit there where he says that we have responsibilities as ex-England players, that we should know better and that we never won anything or words to that effect.

“Fine, he’s absolutely right. But I will say one thing. The last thing in the world we want to be is downbeat and critical. We want the England team to perform well on the pitch. The best punditry of all is when England play well.”

Shearer also accepts Kane’s retort but believes the national team skipper has the power to have the final say.

Shearer said on the podcast: “It’s important we never get personal. That’s the most important thing.

“They were terrible and we have to say that. If England were brilliant we’d say they were brilliant, that’s the way it is.

“As a player you always get the right of reply on the pitch. I have no problem what we said, I wouldn’t take anything back we said.

“England were really poor. I think the vast majority of the country, and even the boys in the squad, will know they were awful against Denmark. There were hardly any positives.”

Shearer believes Kane should still be in the team against Slovenia on Tuesday, despite calls for the Bayern Munich forward to be dropped, but feels that Gareth Southgate must tinker with his tactics and selection.

“I disagree with that view: don’t leave him out. You cannot leave your captain and your main goalscorer out of the team,” he added in his Athletic column.

“It is not a case of leaving Harry out. Instead, you get legs around him — runners off the ball. I don’t care how experienced you are, all players need a little bit of help now and again and I’m sure he and Gareth will have been analysing the performance since Thursday.

“Harry is brilliant at coming deep — he loves doing it — but he did it too much against Denmark. The issue is that he is coming into traffic and getting in the way of his own players when he does come into midfield areas.

“If he is going to drop deep, we know he needs runners ahead of him. How many times did we see him picking passes for Son Heung-min bursting beyond him in a Tottenham Hotspur shirt?”