Harry Kane warns Scotland he’s better than when he last faced them

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Harry Kane has warned Scotland he is a better player than when he won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup, and has said England cannot afford to be distracted by the intense buildup to their meeting at Wembley on Friday.

Kane’s six goals in Russia meant he became the first England player to finish as the tournament’s top scorer since Gary Lineker in 1986, and he has since taken his England tally to 34 in 55 caps.

Related: England v Scotland will reflect how both have changed, on and off field | Jonathan Liew

Despite Tottenham’s struggles last season the 27-year-old won his third Premier League Golden Boot after scoring 23 goals, and provided more assists than any other player – a statistic that has attracted the attention of the champions, Manchester City.

Kane, asked whether he had improved since England’s run to the semi-finals in 2018, when they lost 2-1 against Croatia after extra time, said: “I think so. Obviously I’ve got a lot more experience and my game understanding is a lot better.

“I’ve got better at knowing when to drop deep and when to run in behind, and using that to my advantage makes it not as easy for defenders; sometimes they don’t know whether to come all the way with you or stay back.

“I guess I’m a player who takes each game differently. I’ll assess the game as I’m playing and see what is going to work best for the team. But for sure over the last few years I think I’ve become a better player and hopefully I will continue to do that over the next three years as well.”

Kane, who failed to score in the win against Croatia on Sunday in the opening Group D game, will captain England for the 34th time at Wembley, moving level with Alan Shearer and John Terry in sixth place on the all-time list.

His first experience came in the thrilling World Cup qualifier against Scotland at Hampden Park in 2017 when his injury-time goal denied the hosts victory. “It was a special occasion for me, being my first game as captain, so it’s a highlight I can still remember,” said Kane.

“I think Friday night is going to be a tough game. There has been a lot of buildup around it, but it’s our second game in a major tournament and our focus is to try and win and make sure we qualify as soon as possible.”

England’s victory against Croatia means another win would guarantee progression to the knockout stages. Kane said reaching the last four was the minimum target. “If we fell short of a semi-final then we would be disappointed as players,” he said.

“We’ve been moving in the right direction in the last three or four years and the next step is to try and get into the final and hopefully win it.”

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