Adam Shergold for MailOnline
08:02 EST, 6 April 2016
09:18 EST, 6 April 2016
Ledley King is thrilled at the prospect of an England team with a Tottenham Hotspur core being unleashed at this summer’s European Championship.
While it looks increasingly likely that Spurs will finish second to Leicester City in the Premier League title race, Mauricio Pochettino’s players will form the heartbeat of the England side challenging out in France.
Striker Harry Kane, midfielders Dele Alli and Eric Dier, and wing backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker are all strong candidates to start in Roy Hodgson’s England team when they open their Euro campaign against Russia on June 11.
(From left to right) Ledley King, Gary Lineker and Ian Wright vie for the Premier League wearing team colours
Ex-Tottenham Hotspur icon King (centre left) and Leicester City fan Lineker (centre right) fight for the trophy
And King, who represented England at two tournaments, is thoroughly enjoying seeing the national side infused with talented players from the one club he played for.
‘I love it, it’s great to see,’ King told Sportsmail. ‘A few years back there was a spell when we had quite a few players in the England squad – I remember there were six at one point.
‘So it’s great now to have a big influence in the England squad. What is great is these players have come through the Spurs set-up.
‘So for them to hopefully be going to the Euros, not only having a big influence not only on the Premier League but the country’s chances of winning trophies, I’m proud because it sends a message right across the world that these players are Tottenham players.’
Centre back King (left) made 321 appearances for his White Hart Lane club between 1999 and 2012
One major factor behind the emergence of this crop of exciting English players is Pochettino, a manager fully prepared to give youth its chance.
Centre back King, who made 321 appearances for the White Hart Lane club between 1999 and 2012, has been impressed by the Argentine’s approach.
‘I’ve seen how he works around them, how he integrates them and how he communicates with them – and the players seem to be responding,’ he said.
‘Not just that, but the players in the youth team as well. He has a keen eye on them and if they are performing, he will give them their opportunity. Throughout the club, there is a hunger from all players.’
Chief among those has been Kane, whose return of 25 goals this season has emphatically rubbished claims he would be a ‘one-season wonder’. With four goals under his belt for the national team, too, Kane is surely one of the first picks for Hodgson this summer.
Striker Harry Kane warms up during Tottenham’s training session at Hotspur Way on a sunny Wednesday
There have even been suggestions that captain Wayne Rooney should be dropped to make way for the more in-form Kane and Jamie Vardy of Leicester.
King isn’t so sure: ‘I think obviously Rooney is the captain and proven, he is the all-time record goalscorer and it will be difficult to dislodge him at this stage. I feel he’s still got a lot of football left in his legs.
‘I’d personally like to see Rooney play in the No 10 role and Harry up top. Harry has been phenomenal, there was a lot of pressure on him this season after the impact he made last season. He has answered a lot of people with 20 plus goals.
‘A lot of people say the second season is your hardest. Even when you do well, you always have people saying ‘well, what about next season?’
‘He is a natural goalscorer and when you have these kind of players, they don’t have to be in the game constantly. They just wait for their moment – that’s what Harry can do.’
In one sensational debut season, Dele Alli (right) has risen from unknown quantity to England shoo-in
If Kane’s prolific scoring form was anticipated, the impact of 19-year-old Dele Alli, who moved from MK Dons last summer, has taken the breath away.
In one sensational debut season, Alli has risen from unknown quantity to England shoo-in, via a succession of influential performances for Tottenham.
Like most onlookers, King has been thoroughly impressed by the teenager’s no fear attitude.
‘He plays with almost a ‘disrespect’ for the Premier League – but it’s a healthy disrespect,’ he said. ‘He is not a player that has come in and thought too much about the reputations of the players he’s playing against.
‘He treat everyone the same, he goes out there trying to make his mark and stamping his authority on the game. I love that in a young player. He’s got that little edge to him and that edge is making him the player he is now.
Spurs’ Eric Dier (right) has switched from central defence into an impressive midfielder this season
‘When you’ve got that belief in yourself, you can be a difficult person to stop.’
As a former centre back, King has naturally been impressed by the rock solid performances of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld at the back, and sees echoes of himself in Dier.
‘The big surprise is that he was a centre back and I don’t think many saw him as a holding midfield player,’ said King. ‘I think the manager deserves credit, he’s seen something there.
‘As a young player, it happened to me quite a bit. I played left back and in midfield. A different manager can see different things at times.
‘I do believe Eric will be a centre-half in time but, similar to myself, the manager sees he can bring something in that midfield position and he is trying to make it his own.’
Centre half Toby Alderweireld (left) heads clear under pressure from Liverpool’s Divock Origi on Saturday
With seven points to make up on leaders Leicester with six matches remaining, it looks as though Spurs will miss out on the title. King, though, believes the future is very bright.
‘Our main aim would have been to finish in the top four this season, so second is a bonus,’ he said.
‘They’ve had a tremendous season and whatever happens from now, a season competing at the top of the table is a great learning curve for the players.
‘Spurs will be stronger next season. You do expect Man United, Chelsea and Man City to make improvements but at Tottenham we do have a solid foundation and we’re going in the right direction.
‘The clubs in a great place and I see them competing for the title.’
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