England manager defends players such as Raheem Sterling who were singled out for boos from the crowd during 4-0 World Cup qualifying win away to Malta
Gareth Southgate says it's a 'privilege' to work with Harry Kane as England aim to take a step closer to Russia 2018 with win over Slovakia at Wembley
Gareth Southgate says it is a "privilege" to have sharp-shooter Harry Kane leading the line for England.
Friday's World Cup qualifier against the side ranked joint 190th in the world required patience and concentration as Malta successfully battened down the hatches until the 53rd minute.
Kane broke the deadlock as he put another barren August behind him, making a fine start to September by adding an assist and another goal as England secured a flattering 4-0 win.
The 24-year-old striker has now scored five goals in his past three England appearances - all of which have come away from home - and Southgate loves working with the Tottenham Hotspur striker.
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"It has been brilliant to look at the bench [on Friday night] and be able to bring on Marcus [Rashford], Danny [Welbeck], Jamie Vardy," the England manager said after overseeing his first away victory.
"We've got [Jermain] Defoe and [Daniel] Sturridge on there, so we've got some real quality and got people who can make an impact.
"The bench in the modern game is crucial because the last 15-20 minutes are so important.
"That said, Harry throughout the game is always a threat - [he had] a good header in the first five minutes - and he will score goals for us. He's proven that in the last few matches: five in three. It's a privilege that we have got him with us."
Ryan Bertrand and Welbeck joined Kane on the scoresheet at the Ta' Qali National Stadium, where the 3,700 travelling supporters made their frustrations heard during an uninspiring first half.
England fans resorted to gallows humour with expletive-loaded chants, with many jeering the players at half time, when Southgate's message was to keep calm and carry on.
"To stay calm, that when we were getting the balls into the areas of the pitch that we wanted to - and had highlighted through the week - as that's where opportunities were coming from," he said of his interval chat. "We had to keep doing that.
"There were a couple of small tactical adjustments, but in the end we knew the build-up of pressure would result in goals if we stayed calm and kept going.
"That's a challenge for a team because the expectation is high and the expectation is that you'll run away with the game.
"But two years ago Italy were 0-0 after 70 minutes here and won it 1-0. They just very rarely get thumped, and we've scored four.
"OK, we haven't scored them as early as we would have liked to, and I fully understand the reaction to that, but from a team perspective we've done the job."
The most noticeable change Southgate made at the break was bringing off the ineffective Raheem Sterling at the end of a week when his Manchester City future was in question.
"I think attacking players and players that dribble and are brave enough to take people on, there's always going to be times where that isn't going to quite work for them - [Friday night] felt like one of those nights for Raheem," said Southgate, whose side host Slovakia, the side second in Group F, on Monday.
"We knew that Marcus was coming on fresh, with the opposition going to tire as the game went on.
"I don't like making a decision like that at half time because, having played, you know how that feels, but I have got to make the right decision for the team. I felt that was."