England manager Gareth Southgate says Jose Mourinho has never asked him not to select a player, despite the Portuguese’s comments about Harry Kane on Wednesday.
Mourinho made it perfectly clear that he did not expect Kane to be involved in all three of England’s games over the next fortnight after a gruelling run of fixtures for Tottenham.
The Three Lions skipper has been named in Southgate’s 30-man squad for games against Wales, Belgium and Denmark, which will come on the back of four games in eight days with Spurs.
Mourinho said he has not spoken to Southgate about the issue, but that he had full faith in the England manager to protect his star man.
Southgate spoke of a good relationship with Mourinho, going back to the Portuguese allowing Steve Holland to coach with the under-21s when he was Chelsea boss.
“With Jose I have had a pretty good relationship for a while, he allowed us to have Steve when we were with the under-21s, he was very helpful in facilitating that,” Southgate said.
“Jose has never, ever put me under pressure not to pick a player.
“That is 100 per cent the case, he has always accepted that international football is where his players are going to go. He has never once asked me not to select player.”
The England boss took Mourinho’s comments in Wednesday’s press conference in good spirits, but says it is a two-way street.
“Jose was great, he was on good form,” he said. “I heard him, he won’t phone but he will stand on Tottenham’s stadium and tell us, so that is good.
“I am a bit disappointed that I am not one of his friends, Steve (Holland) is, but in fairness Steve helped him to a league title so that is understandable.
“All Jose needs to do is make sure in April and May he has to look after Harry Kane for us because there are 55million people relying on that. That obviously works both ways.”
Southgate has strongly hinted that Kane will not start all three games and intends to use all of the unusually high number of 30 players called up.
“The 30-man squad is very unusual for us, that is a nod to the fact we have got three matches and also the amount of football the players are currently experiencing, the lack of pre-season clubs have been able to have and there are a lot of physical issues all clubs are having,” he added.
“It is a great challenge for us as a coaching team.
“We are certainly not looking to start players in three games, I can’t guarantee that no player will play no minute off all three games, our aim is to manage the squad, we have got to be responsible, we are conscious of the welfare of the players, the season as a whole is a huge challenge.”
Dominic Calvert-Lewin will ease the workload on Kane after his maiden call-up, which is reward for a stunning start to the season for Everton.
The 23-year-old has scored eight goals in five games, including two hat-tricks.
Southgate said: “Dominic is a player we’ve liked for a long time. What he has added over the last 18 months are goals. Of course for a striker they are critical. He is in a really rich vein of form.
“His all-round game in terms of what he gives to the team, his hold-up play, his ability to press the opposition – he is a pest to play against for defenders.
“That adds a lot to the team and he has clearly been a big part of why Everton have started the season so well. He thoroughly deserves his opportunity.”
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Leicester’s Harvey Barnes also got maiden call-ups.
“Saka at times for Arsenal last season was very exciting, still very young, still learning of course, but improving all of the time,” Southgate said.
“Real high potential, real good quality, everybody that has worked with him tells me he is a real intelligent, level-headed boy.
“It is an area of the pitch we are keen to look at a different profile of player and he can play a different number of roles quite comfortably.
“Harvey has had a good couple of years, he scored a lot of goals at West Brom, he is now starting to take that into the Premier League. He is a different sort of wide player, very direct, very impressive counter-attacking.
“Some of these boys we might not have been looking at if we had two fixtures but this is a bit different, this is a chance for them to work with us and a chance for us to get to know them a bit better.”