England v Italy: Kane to start alongside Rooney

Roy Hodgson confirms that Friday's super-sub will be in his starting line-up for England's friendly this evening

Harry Kane of Spurs
(Image credit: Clive Mason/Getty)

England play Italy tonight in Turin and manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Harry Kane will make his first start for his country in the friendly international. "Harry deserves his chance," said Hodgson, no doubt delighted at the 21-year-old's dream debut in the 4-0 win over Lithuania on Friday night.

Kane scored 79 seconds after coming on as a substitute in a victory that edged the Three Lions ever closer to qualification for next summer's Euro 2016 championships.

Wayne Rooney also got on the scoresheet and the England captain, who will partner Kane up front against Italy, is now just two goals short of Bobby Charlton's all-time England scoring record of 49. "It's nice to see both of them on the field together," Hodgson said of his striking duo. "They played a lot in training and I am pleased to see them playing together from the start."

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England will be without nine players from the squad that crushed Lithuania at Wembley, with Danny Welbeck, midfielders Raheem Sterling and James Milner, and defender Leighton Baines among the absentees. Nonetheless Hodgson said the friendly match is far from meaningless and will provide the squad with some valuable experience as well as a chance to avenge England's 2-1 defeat to Italy in last year's World Cup group game.

"We are taking it very seriously," said Hodgson, whose side are unbeaten in their seven matches since returning from their disastrous World Cup campaign. "It's a great opportunity for the players who haven't had a chance in the qualifiers to show they really deserve their place in the squad and that they're good enough to replace the players I've been selecting before them."

Other than confirming that Kane will partner Rooney up front, Hodgson declined to name his starting XI for tonight's encounter, unlike his Italian counterpart, Antonio Conte. Only defender Giorgio Chiellini played in the World Cup game nine months ago, and though Italy are also unbeaten since the tournament, they needed an 84th-minute goal from Eder to salvage a 2-2 draw with Bulgaria on Saturday.

Conte has chosen a midfield of Marco Parolo, Mirko Valdifiori and Roberto Soriano, while Southampton striker Graziano Pelle starts up front, despite the fact he's failed to score for the Saints in the Premier League since December.

Alongside Pelle in attack is Brazilian-born Eder, winning his second cap and hoping – like Kane – to put in another goal-scoring performance for his country.

Italy are also in transition following their failure to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup and Conte called on the Turin fans and the Italian press not to expect too much against England. "We're going through a change in generation and we've got to be patient," he said. "People are complaining all the time, but…please don't slam the players because this kind of thing does not go down well, and it doesn't help me with my job."

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Bill Mann is a football correspondent for The Week.co.uk, scouring the world's football press daily for the popular Transfer Talk column.