Harry Kane believes England have to be braver if things are ever to improve at major tournaments.
A year to the day since the senior team’s dismal World Cup ended with a goalless draw with Costa Rica, the Young Lions wasted a glorious chance to raise the nation’s hopes in the Czech Republic.
Gareth Southgate’s men took on Italy with destiny in their own hands, yet a 3-1 defeat in Olomouc led to a third successive group-stage exit at the Under-21 European Championship.
England certainly had the talent to do better – highlighted by recent friendly wins against semi-finalists Portugal and Germany – but they continued the national team’s worrying knack of collapsing on the big stage.
“It’s hard to say (why it happens) but that’s what has got to change,” striker Kane said after defeat to the Azzurrini. “Experiences like this can only help us.
“Like I say, there’s no real reason, it doesn’t just happen overnight that things change. We’ve got to keep working on it and keep getting braver in the tournaments.
“We’ve got to start winning tournaments through all age groups up to the seniors, but probably we’ve got to look back at the games and what we could have done better.
“We’ve got to try and use it as an experience that helps put us in a positive motion.”
Asked what he means by the need to be braver, Kane said: “Yes, forget about the pressure and expectation – do what we do in qualification and don’t falter in the groups.
“That happens over a period of time and hopefully we can get it right next summer.”
Kane is likely to be joined in the senior team next summer by Under-21s team-mates like Jack Butland and John Stones, with Roy Hodgson’s men on the brink of qualification to the European Championship finals in France.
“We can take experience of playing top eight teams in Europe,” the Tottenham striker said.
“Tournament football, you can’t gain that experience other than being here. We have got to do better obviously.
“We always do so well up to the tournament and it seems to falter in the tournament.
“That is experience we have to learn from. It doesn’t happen overnight. There are things we have to work on and try and improve but that is the aim.”
This is not the first time Kane has endured frustration with England, having been part of the Under-20s side that two years ago finished bottom of their World Cup group.
The subsequent disappointments have compounded matters and left the English public questioning the state of the national game, but the striker is confident he will one day be part of a winning side.
“Yeah, I believe that,” Kane said. “That is always the aim, the dream to lift a trophy for England and it still is.
“No one can say we don’t have the ability. We have amazing young talent coming through, amazing talent in the senior squad at the moment.
“It is just putting the dots together during a tournament and see what happens.”
On an individual level, the key question in regards to Kane is whether he will be ready to start the season with Tottenham.
Head coach Mauricio Pochettino has expressed understandable concerns about that, but the striker says he will be fine despite playing an extraordinary numbers game for club and country.
“I’ll go away, probably have a couple of weeks off and recharge the batteries but I’ll be back for the start of the season, for sure,” Kane said.
“I’ll be in for pre-season in a couple of weeks’ times and getting ready for the start of the season. I’m sure it’ll be here before we know it.”
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