There is no ‘next Harry Kane’ as paucity of England striker options is laid bare

Harry Kane, Eddie Nketiah and Cameron Archer
Harry Kane, Eddie Nketiah and Cameron Archer

The fact that it was back-page news was ridiculous; there was nothing remotely surprising about Harry Kane saying he hopes to play for England at Euro 2028 when he will be 34. We covered the ludicrousness of this being ‘news’ in Mediawatch, along with one journalist’s bizarre choice of Kai Rooney (currently 13) as England’s potential No. 1 striker in his stead.

It’s a wilfully daft notion but we presume that Daily Mirror writer Andy Dunn was desperately casting around for an alternative name to Kane and came up with nothing. Nada. F*** all.

He might have glanced at the latest England Under-21 squad and seen a promising list of seven ‘forwards’, but then realised that only one of them would describe himself as a striker; he is currently at Hull City and has scored two Championship goals this season.

But England’s Under-21s won the European Championship this summer, so who was the triumphant striker? That would be Newcastle United winger Anthony Gordon.

He may then have looked at an exhaustive list of English strikers under the age of 25 who have played in the Premier League this season. And that exhaustive list is a massive two names long: Eddie Nketiah and Cameron Archer.

It’s little wonder that Gareth Southgate enquired about the exact level of Evan Ferguson’s Irishness. ‘Really Irish’ must have been the dismissive reply.

And that’s how you end up touting a teenage ‘son of’ as a future England striker with no evidence other than a) a very famous name and b) an admittedly excellent scoring record in youth football. Even at 13, he seems more plausible as a Euro 2028 option than Eddie Nketiah.

Whimsy aside, there is clearly a striker-shaped black hole where Kane’s potential successor should be; England’s current reserves – barring the limited Nketiah – are all 27-plus. We need Kane to resist the urge to ‘do a Hazard’ and take England through three more major tournaments because the alternatives are virtually non-existent.

But there is a sliver of hope precisely because of Kane’s own history. Ten years ago this week, he was scoring a hat-trick for England’s Under-21s v San Marino at a time when precisely nobody would have named him as an option for a World Cup squad in 2018. Indeed, he was so far out of the international picture that he was dropped (by Southgate) for Saido Berahino in the very next game.

At that juncture, Kane had played eight minutes for Tottenham in the Premier League having point-blank refused to go out on loan again after a poor spell at Leicester in the Championship. Any prospective 2018 line-up with him leading the line would have been ridiculed in Mediawatch and beyond; less than five years later he won the World Cup Golden Boot.

Is there another Harry Kane on loan in the Championship? Does Archer or Nketiah have a Kane-like iron will to succeed? We suspect that we might wait decades for a striker with that combination of determination and technical skill to emerge again but right now, it’s hard to see even a half-Harry on the horizon.

So look after yourself, Mr Kane. Never mind Euro 2028; we might yet need you for the World Cup in 2030.