London (AFP) – Harry Kane believes England will start their bid to win Euro 2020 in a “better place” than they were before reaching the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.
Gareth Southgate’s side made a surprise run to the last four in Russia three years ago.
But there are greater expectations around his vibrant young team as they prepare to kick off their European Championship campaign against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday.
Croatia ended England’s World Cup hopes in Russia, but Three Lions captain Kane is certain Southgate’s revamped squad are better equipped to go the distance this time.
“I’d say so,” Kane told the Official England Podcast when asked if the squad is stronger than in 2018.
“We’re probably in a better place. Going into that World Cup, we maybe weren’t sure where we were as a team, but we performed really well and stepped up to the occasion.
“I feel like now we’ve had a bit more experience, players in the biggest games for their club and obviously players who have played in that World Cup have had that experience as well.
“We haven’t won a tournament as a country for a long time, so there needs to be a lot of good mentality along the whole way as it is a long, tough journey to get to the later stages of a major tournament.
“Obviously there’s a bit more pressure on us this year than there was going into that World Cup, so we just have to take it in our stride and look forward to the challenge.”
Southgate has brought a dynamic crop of youngsters into his Euro squad, with Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Mason Mount, Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho all set to experience senior international tournament action for the first time.
There are just three players over the age of 30 in the England squad.
Tottenham striker Kane believes Southgate has the balance just right as his country chase their first major tournament triumph since the 1966 World Cup.
“I’m only 27 years old, but I’m one of the older ones in the team,” said Kane, who finished as the top scorer at the 2018 World Cup.
“We have a great balance and we know we have a long way to go with a lot of hard work between now and, hopefully, the end of the tournament, so we’ll do all we can in this preparation stage.
“Everyone gets on really well and the group is great. We’ve got a great balance between young and experienced players.
“We’ve got players who have been playing in the best games, the biggest games, cup finals and we have a great team.”
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