Kane’s fitness concern

England manager Gareth Southgate will check on the fitness of Harry Kane before considering him for a start against Scotland and is confident his squad can cope with the loss of fellow Tottenham star Dele Alli.

Striker Kane returned to action after seven weeks out with ankle trouble in Spurs’ 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Sunday, scoring an equaliser from the penalty spot.

Southgate admits he would love to start Kane against Gordon Strachan’s men but will make sure he is fully fit.

He told a press conference: “I think the first thing we have to do with Harry is check how he is after yesterday.

“I think Spurs, maybe with Dele missing as well, took a decision for what was a very big game for them. Of course we have a big game ourselves and will have to see what level he’s at when he reports.

“But it was great to see him back and scoring and with a smile on his face at the end of the game.”

Kane’s Tottenham team-mate Alli suffered a knee injury in training which ruled him out against the Gunners and is expected to keep him sidelined for three weeks.

That also rules him out of the World Cup qualifier with Scotland and friendly against Spain and Southgate admits he will be a big loss.

However, he is confident England are well stocked in that position, saying: “I think he’s a super player, we like him a lot.

“We’ve worked with him at England since the Under-18s and younger so we know all about him.

“It’s a shame for us and it was a shame for him to miss the game yesterday and to miss the two matches that we’ve got, but we are very fortunate that we have a lot of very good players in that area of the field, so it’s an opportunity for somebody else.”

Jack Wilshere, on loan at Bournemouth from Arsenal, is back in the squad after impressing at the Vitality Stadium.

When asked what he had seen in Wilshere for the midfielder to earn a recall, Southgate said: “I don’t think there has ever been any questioning of his quality.

“We’ve felt for a long time that he’s a player that can play at the highest level, so I guess as much as anything it’s been his match sharpness.

“The fact he’s had three 90 minutes with Bournemouth and I’ve been to two of their other games, I think it’s a good moment to bring him back into the squad.”

Southgate could face one or two potential selection posers, with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose sustaining knocks at the Emirates and Theo Walcott on baby watch.

He added: “We have named 25 for that reason, because there a couple of knocks from yesterday that we are not totally sure about.

“Theo Walcott might have to disappear at any time as his wife is expecting so we are conscious of that, but until we’ve had the chance to assess a couple of scenarios we are not too sure.”

Southgate is boosted by the return of Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling after the pair were ruled out against Malta and Slovenia through injury.

The England boss is relishing the return of the duo and hopes they can take their impressive club form into the upcoming international double-header.

“They are both clearly in very good form for their clubs and that’s always helpful when you’ve got players that are playing well and in a good moment then that tends to carry through into their performances with us,” he said.

“I was watching Liverpool yesterday. They are a team that are in a really good moment and I was at their training ground last week, there’s a really good atmosphere about the place and they clearly believe in what the manager is doing and hopefully they can bring that with them to our performances.”

Gundogan says City’s facilities show they are among the world’s biggest clubs

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan says you just need to look at the facilities at the Premier League outfit to realise they are among the biggest clubs in the world.

Gundogan has hit form since returning from injury and he told Germany’s Kicker magazine how his move to City in the summer was easy, once he saw where he would be working.

“When I drive into our training centre here and see all of this, then it’s extremely impressive,” he said.

“Not even Bayern can compare to this, this is in a different league.

“You realise that you have arrived at one of the biggest clubs in the world who have big ambition and would like to develop something big over the coming years.

“The pressure and responsibility for the individual players is accordingly big and it’s certainly different to in Dortmund.”

Gundogan admits the pressures of life at City are much higher than they were at Dortmund, since he is at a club who expect to be challenging for trophies every season rather than one expecting to finish behind Bayern.

Furthermore, the arrival of Pep Guardiola in the summer has only strengthened that desire to clinch silverware next summer.

“They make it quite clear that they crave the very best here,” Gundogan said. “The expectation levels are extremely high due to the transfers and above all due to Pep.

“He is simply success personified.”

He is also bringing the best out of Gundogan, who has scored five goals in 10 games, although he says it is his more advanced position which is contributing to him scoring more regularly.

“I know that I have Fernandinho, a defensive midfielder, behind me and that he is always covering my back,” said the 26-year-old. “That is why I am playing more attacking and getting close to the penalty area more frequently.

“At Dortmund, I was more the defensive cover.”

Gundogan scored only six goals in 73 appearances for Dortmund from a more defensive role and admits he may now be given the chance to play further up the field for Germany, alongside the likes of Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller.

“It’s possible,” he said. “That would make us extremely variable.”

Gundogan reports for international duty on Tuesday with Germany facing San Marino in a World Cup qualifier on Friday night before travelling to Italy for an international friendly four days later.

Georginio Wijnaldum enjoying his football at table-topping Liverpool

Midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is counting his blessings at table-topping Liverpool this season after a campaign spent at the other end of the division.

The 25-year-old Dutch international came off the bench to open his Reds account in a 6-1 hammering of Watford on Sunday as Jurgen Klopp’s men reached the top-flight’s summit for the first time since May 2014.

Only a handful of players remain at Anfield 30 months on and the feeling of leading the league will be even more appreciated by Wijnaldum, who was unable to prevent Newcastle from sliding into the Championship in May despite scoring 11 times.

“It’s a blessing for everyone in the dressing room that we can be a part of this team and this club,” he told liverpoolfc.com.

“In situations and moments where it is going well, you enjoy football more than normal, and in this situation we are enjoying football more than normal.

“We are scoring goals and playing good. Unfortunately we could not keep another clean sheet but we won and scored a lot of goals – that’s the most important thing.

“You enjoy playing in a team like this because it’s going well and you’re playing with good players. We want to keep the ball and score goals and we’re trying to defend well. They are happy moments here in Liverpool.”

There will be contrasting emotions at Watford, where a run of three straight clean sheets was broken by conceding half-a-dozen times to Klopp’s rampant Reds.

Walter Mazzarri’s side are still eighth in the Premier League standings and the 55-year-old is confident he can remedy the issues to ensure the rout on Merseyside will not be the start of a slump.

“After the international break I will sit down with all the players and with my experience I will tell them what we need to do in the next days,” said Mazzarri.

“In my opinion against a team like Liverpool you can lose but I’m not happy to lose in this way. We have to work tactically and psychologically to play against a team like this and for this not to happen again.”

Mazzarri highlighted the absence of Sebastian Prodl and Craig Cathcart as part of the reason why his defence was so porous and he is now sweating on the fitness of goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes too.

The Brazilian was injured when beaten by Philippe Coutinho for Liverpool’s second goal and had to come off with a knee problem that needs further assessment.

“He had a very big knock on the knee,” Mazzarri explained. “We need to check in the next days if it is twisted, we will know in the next days.”

Mauricio Pochettino: No problem with Harry Kane being called up for England

Mauricio Pochettino had no objection to Harry Kane being called up to the England squad despite the striker playing his first match in seven weeks against Arsenal on Sunday.

Kane was handed a surprise start at the Emirates Stadium and justified his manager’s faith as his second-half penalty secured Tottenham a valuable 1-1 draw.

The 23-year-old certainly showed signs of rust and came off after 72 minutes but his contribution was enough to earn selection in Gareth Southgate’s England squad, which was announced on Sunday night.

England play Scotland in a World Cup qualifier on Friday before hosting a friendly against Spain four days later.

“Can he be in the England squad? I think yes,” Pochettino said after the match. “Now the doctor is assessing him but I think it is not a problem.”

It was Kane’s fifth goal in as many games against the Gunners and helped Spurs maintain their unbeaten run in the Premier League after Kevin Wimmer’s own-goal had earlier put the home side ahead.

Kane’s comeback is welcome news for Southgate but the interim England boss was unable to pick Dele Alli, who twisted his knee in training on Saturday.

Kyle Walker also limped off against Arsenal but the full-back’s problem was not considered serious as he made it into the England squad along with team-mates Eric Dier and Danny Rose.

Pochettino agreed Kane’s presence alone gave his side an “emotional lift” but the striker’s selection was not the only surprise as Tottenham started in an unfamiliar 3-4-2-1 formation.

It was a bold move that just about paid off for Spurs, who recovered their assurance at the back after a shaky display against Bayer Leverkusen and created more chances going forward.

They are still without a win in seven matches but should be better placed after the international break if, as expected, Kane, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela all complete recoveries from injury.

“Today you need to be flexible,” Pochettino said of his new system. “In the last month we’ve had some small problems and we always need to adapt our system and our game.

“Today we worked a lot to try to find better solutions in the offensive area and tried to play thinking about the opposite goal, higher up with two strikers and one offensive player in behind to create chances and win the game.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insisted Tottenham’s formation did not unsettle his players.

“We know how to play against a back three, we knew they could play with a back three,” Wenger said. “That was not the basic problem.”

Arsenal, who sit fourth in the table and two points off the top, lacked their usual precision in the final third. Mesut Ozil was influential again but Alexis Sanchez, in particular, was noticeably quiet.

“We were quite dangerous in the first half and created dangerous situations in the second,” Wenger said.

“We gave everything but were not as sharp physically as we can be in the final part of the game.”

Jose Mourinho demands Manchester United players go through the pain barrier

Jose Mourinho took another swipe at his Manchester United players and questioned whether some of them were prepared to put their bodies on the line for the club.

United claimed a comfortable 3-1 victory at struggling Swansea to secure a first win in five Premier League games and move back into the top six, as the Portuguese served a one-match touchline ban.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice to end his Red Devils’ goal drought but Mourinho suggested some of his players were more willing to play through pain than others, appearing to single out England defenders Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw.

Mourinho told Sky Sports: ” I want to say (some of the players) were influenced by some culture issues, influenced by a situation that has been going on for a few years.

“There is a difference between the brave, who want to be there at any cost, and the ones for whom a little pain can make a difference.

“Of course, it is not just the players, it is the people that surround the players.”

Before the game, Mourinho had told MUTV: “Smalling doesn’t feel that he can play 100 per cent with his pain. Luke Shaw told me this morning that he was not in the condition to play so we had to build a defensive line.”

Mourinho continued on the same theme at his post-match press conference, adding: “We have players with problems, players on the pitch with problems.

“Every sport – and I know that because I have friends from other sports who play at the highest level – you play when you are not 100 per cent.

“I have a friend who is a big tennis player and he remembers more the times he plays in pain than without any pain.

“That’s what I mean, to compete you have to go to the limit. It is a cultural thing for some. But that’s not my culture. And more than me, Man United’s (culture).”

Smalling has a foot injury while Shaw is understood to have been feeling discomfort in the same leg he broke at the start of last season.

United were 3-0 up inside 33 minutes as Ibrahimovic’s brace added to Paul Pogba’s brilliant strike.

Ibrahimovic had not scored in the league since September 10, but his 609-minute goal drought ended when he drove home low from 20 yards and then added another after being fed for the second time by Rooney.

Mourinho said: “I used to say that a striker that does not score goals and does nothing else is one player less.

“A striker that doesn’t score goals but does everything else is a very important player for the team.

“He was not scoring goals but he was doing everything else.”

Swansea remain one place off the foot of the table and have yet to win under new manager Bob Bradley.

The former United States boss has lost three and drawn one of his four games in charge.

And the mood inside the Liberty Stadium threatened to turn ugly as supporters vented their anger at board members who sold the club to new American owners in the summer.

“If the fans are angry, I understand that,” Bradley said after Mike van der Hoorn’s 69th-minute header had provided scant consolation.

“We didn’t do enough to win them over. They had every right to be angry.

“It’s a tough spot, there is no two ways about that. We understand very clearly where we are and there is no hiding from that.

“But we have to keep everyone going and hopefully get some results.”

Mike Phelan braced for the worst after Hernandez and Keane injuries

Hull boss Mike Phelan will wait by his phone on Monday expecting more bad injury news.

The Tigers won their first Premier League game since August as they beat Southampton 2-1 on Sunday, but it came at a cost as they lost Abel Hernandez and Will Keane to injury in the opening 25 minutes.

They shook off that double blow, which came on the back of conceding a sixth-minute penalty scored by Charlie Austin, to score two goals in two second-half minutes, ending a run of six successive league defeats.

But while that gave Phelan reason to cheer, the impending bad news on Hernandez and Keane is deflating, considering Hull’s shocking luck with injuries this season.

“They are going to be looked at on Monday, medically the signs aren’t very good,” Phelan said. “Keane is the worst of the two and they are both going to be out for some time. Keane is knee and Hernandez is groin.

“It’s a case of wait and see, it doesn’t look good. I’ll leave that to the medical team and wait for the phone call. They are crazy injuries, there is no reason why, it’s just the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Phelan enjoyed the winning taste for the first time since becoming permanent manager last month and praised the spirit in the squad after a horror run of results.

“The group have an inner belief and determination,” he added. “Sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it doesn’t. We have to believe in what we are doing and it is massively important everyone around the club has an inner belief too.”

Claude Puel says his Southampton side can learn from the defeat, one he could scarcely believe.

The Saints, who beat Inter Milan in the Europa League on Thursday, were in complete control up until Hull’s two-goal blast and even then had a host of chances to claim a point.

“We can do better, this is a good lesson for us for the future because we had control of the game,” the Frenchman said.

“We lacked concentration and afterwards it was difficult to score. We had chances after that but we weren’t clinical. It’s difficult to accept how we lost this game.

“We dominated the game and controlled it. When you win a game like Inter Milan, when you come back to the Premier League to play a team who plays one game a week it is difficult.

“I think we will learn for the future. Every game in the Premier League is difficult. We deserved the points today.”

Claudio Ranieri refuses to blame Danny Drinkwater after defeat to West Brom

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri refused to blame Danny Drinkwater after the Foxes lost their 20-game unbeaten home run.

The midfielder, who was named in England’s squad on Sunday to face Scotland and Spain this month, gifted West Brom a 2-1 victory at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

His miscued backpass sent Matt Phillips clear to score the winner as Albion became the first team to beat Leicester at home in the Premier League since September 2015.

Defeat was the champions’ fifth of the season, after they lost just three last term, but Ranieri insisted Drinkwater should not shoulder the blame on his own.

“Danny has said nothing. Every player can make a mistake, what can you say to him. He is one of our best players. No problem he overcomes that, of course,” he said.

“I am very sorry we lost our unbeaten record at home. We knew it would be a tough match against West Brom.

“I don’t know if they need rest but 80 per cent of my players go to international teams. They don’t have rest. They travel and when they come back it is two days before the Watford match. We have to work.”

Jamie Vardy, also in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad, was benched before coming on at the break and has now failed to score in his last 13 outings.

Ranieri added: “In this moment with Shinji (Okazaki) we play better. I didn’t play (Islam) Slimani in Champions League and I wanted to give a rest to Vards. But it wasn’t right, the plan, they didn’t do what I asked so in second half I introduced Vardy to attack the defensive line.”

James Morrison had given Albion a second-half lead only for Slimani to immediately level before Phillips’ winner.

Victory saw Albion move three points clear of the relegation zone, ending a five-match winless streak, and Baggies boss Tony Pulis paid tribute to Leicester’s unbeaten run after ending it.

He said: “This football club is fantastic, the way it’s run and the success they had last year and this year. It’s just a dream, the people are lovely, the staff, everybody. It’s a lovely place to come and obviously it’s a great place to come because we’ve won.”

Phillips scored his first Albion goal after being dropped for last week’s 4-0 defeat to Manchester City and Pulis believes he reacted well as he plots more January additions.

“He needed a rest, because he’s been working very hard like the others,” he said, after his first victory against any reigning Premier League champions.

“What we need is a little bit more quality, like (Nacer) Chadli. I’ve spoken to the Chinese owners, and that’s what we’ll try to do.”

Football rumours from the UK media

The latest gossip and rumours from the newspapers and online:

The Daily Mirror claims Slaven Bilic will have talks with DIMITRI PAYET amid reports the France playmaker is looking to leave the Hammers.

Ronald Koeman wants to bring out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder BASTIAN SCHWEINSTEIGER to Everton in January, reports the Daily Star.

West Brom are looking at 23-year-old Schalke left-back SEAD KOLASINAC, according to the Daily Mirror.

And the same paper writes Everton, Sunderland, West Ham, West Brom and Stoke are keeping tabs on Poland striker LUKASZ TEODORCZYK, who has scored 14 goals during a loan spell at Anderlecht this season.

In the Championship, former Tottenham and Aston Villa boss TIM SHERWOOD is in line to take the QPR job, says the Express.

Slaven Bilic keeps faith with Adrian after mistake costs West Ham victory

Slaven Bilic has insisted he retains faith in Adrian despite the goalkeeper’s mistake costing West Ham victory in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Stoke.

The Spaniard needlessly rushed out to present substitute Bojan Krkic with the near-open goal into which the Stoke man scored to secure the visitors’ point.

The draw appeared a damaging result ahead of a run of league fixtures against Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Adrian’s form had already come under scrutiny prior to the Stoke match, but Bilic has no desire to turn to Darren Randolph and will stick with his first choice.

“He is my number one for sure,” said the West Ham manager, who also hopes to have Diafra Sakho and Andy Carroll available again after the international football break.

“I’ve got no concerns about his form. Okay, the goal was a big mistake from him. He misjudged the ball. Maybe it was obvious from the touchline he was not going to get the ball.

“There was not any reason for him to go there; it was far away from goal and we had it covered.

“It’s a mistake but we should not forget how many times he has been a key man for us.

“I’ve always said we have a couple of really good goalkeepers and it is a fact that you want your players, including Adrian, confident. He made one mistake, that happens.

“He knows he made a mistake. But mistakes happen.”

West Ham travel to Tottenham after the international break and then face United in back-to-back matches in league and cup before taking on Arsenal and Liverpool.

“It’s a very tough schedule but we have seen how we played against top teams last year,” Bilic said. “We beat Chelsea, one of the top teams, here in the (EFL) Cup. On paper it is very tough.

“Four games plus one cup game against Manchester United, but we have to get ourselves ready.”

The result means the improving Stoke are unbeaten in six, and it was a further demonstration of their recovery after an unexpectedly poor start to the season.

Mark Hughes insisted the club’s hierarchy never put pressure on him during that run despite their increased expectations.

“We get great support from the Coates family,” he said. “I like to think I deserved a bit of support because I haven’t done bad for the club so there was never internal pressure. It was coming from the outside, if anything. We’ve turned things around now and we’re enjoying it.”

Hughes added that Bojan remains a key player for him despite Joe Allen impressing in his favoured position.

“Clearly we’ve got a real talented player (Bojan) within our ranks who in any other circumstance – other than the fact that the guy in possession of his position (Allen) is playing out of his skin – would be in the team. He’s just had to be a bit patient,” he said.

“There will be occasions (he’ll start) when I feel the right game, when we are playing the right opposition, and we’re in the right situation in terms of our confidence, which probably won’t be too far away given we’re on a six-game run. He’s a quality player.”

Burnley striker Ashley Barnes happy positive outlook paid off

Ashley Barnes insisted he never doubted his ability to put two injury-plagued seasons behind him after striking a dramatic last-ditch winner to give Burnley a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace at Turf Moor.

The 27-year-old missed most of last season with a cruciate ligament injury then picked up a hamstring strain in pre-season which kept him sidelined until he made a brief return in the goalless draw at Old Trafford last week.

Clarets boss Sean Dyche said he “had a feeling” Barnes would make a major intervention when he brought him on as an 86th minute replacement for Jeff Hendrick – and Barnes responded by clattering a Johann Gudmundsson cross into the roof of the net in the fourth minute of injury time.

It was Barnes’ first goal since February last year and he said: “If you’re going to beat yourself up or get down about it then it’s beaten you.

“I don’t want to think about the bad things, that’s not me. I want to look forward and the positive outcome today was being on the pitch and being lucky enough to score goals.

“I’ve got a great family around me and a great bunch in the dressing room to help me along and it’s worked.”

Given Barnes’ recent injury problems fellow substitute Andre Gray might have seemed a more obvious choice to replace Hendrick as the Clarets fought desperately to get something out of a game that had started so well.

Sam Vokes and the excellent Gudmundsson put them 2-0 up inside the first 15 minutes before Connor Wickham reduced the deficit and Christian Benteke appeared to have rescued a point for Palace with an 82nd minute penalty.

But Burnley’s remarkable work-rate paid off when they swept forward from a Palace free-kick with Barnes playing a neat one-two with Gudmundsson before smashing the ball beyond a helpless Steve Mandanda.

And as his side soared to ninth in the Premier League table, Barnes said he believes the manner of his side’s victory – mirroring a similar last-gasp triumph over Everton two weeks earlier – proves how much better-equipped they are to survive in the top flight.

“Unfortunately we got relegated (last time) but I think this group of lads we’ve got, the spirit in the group means this time hopefully we can stay in this league,” added Barnes.

“All the gaffer’s done is add to the squad we already had here. He brought some in and it’s taken off again. The gaffer’s got so many options now we’ve got a great squad and we’re fighting for each other.”

England boss Gareth Southgate was at Turf Moor and will have been impressed with defender Michael Keane, who is expected to retain his place in the squad for the game against Scotland next weekend.

Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha are also on Southgate’s radar and the latter in particular will have impressed after a busy performance which highlighted his new approach to the game this season.

Zaha told Palace TV: “I’m not rushing things as much this season, I’m trying to go for better quality over quantity, so when I’m crossing it in I’m trying to pick out someone instead of just whacking it in there hoping for the best.

“I think that’s what has changed – I’m slowing down and trying to pick out people.”

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