Stones can handle England midfield role, says manager Southgate


Harry Kane will keep the captain's armband for England's season-ending friendly in France, where Tom Heaton and Jack Butland will play instead of under-scrutiny Joe Hart.

Southgate said Kane would follow in the footsteps of Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, now recovering from injury but who wore the armband in the manager's first two matches in charge, against Malta and Slovenia last autumn.

But Southgate insisted he had always meant to share game time between Heaton and Butland against France. I'm not in a rush to make that decision.

"Tom has had an outstanding season".

"For me, two moments of quality, but we will look at it", he said.

There will be pressure on both sets of players to turn in a strong display here, too, as they each toiled for long stints of their previous matches.

Southgate added: "His contribution around the group has been excellent since I've been manager".

"We've got to maintain the squad environment that people feel involved", Southgate explained.

The time has come for England to drop Joe Hart and give Jack Butland a chance to stake his claim to the No.1 jersey, according to England legend Terry Butcher.

"Others more thoughtful, take responsibility on the ball, show leadership in other ways". We'll be building up to the action throughout the day and Matt will be giving you a blow-by-blow account of the game as it unfolds.

"In the past, one or two goalkeepers have given up worldwide football because they have not had that chance, so I am conscious of keeping them involved".

When asked who is his number one keeper, England boss Southgate said: "Joe Hart".

"I think we've really got a good opportunity with this squad, with it being so young with a few really good characters that are senior as well".

Southgate will have questions to answer if they lose to France and I can see them doing so.

"He didn't even get close to the shots and didn't even get a glove on them or a finger to them".

"But players have got to play their way into that sort of situation". If you look at their team and the depth of the French team, they're not short for players in any position, so they're definitely one of the best teams in the world and that's exciting to go and play against. Our ambition with our friendly matches is to play the best possible teams - we've done that by playing Spain and Germany already. Southgate said in a preview to this match: "France is a great challenge for us".

"The highest level isn't just about attacking well it's about defending as well", Deschamps said.