Starmer weighs in on Lineker-Kane row to back England team

Sir Keir gestures in front of a background view of London
Sir Keir Starmer said he was on the side of the England team after they faced criticism - Talk

Sir Keir Starmer has backed Harry Kane in a row over Gary Lineker’s “unfair criticism” of the England squad.

Lineker called England’s performance last week against Denmark “s---” on his The Rest Is Football podcast, on which Alan Shearer, who has also been critical of Gareth Southgate and his team, is a regular guest.

Harry Kane hit back over the weekend, suggesting the former England strikers had ramped up their criticism of the national team for their own gain.

Kane’s own form in the Euros was also criticised by Lineker and Shearer, who urged him to put more effort in and stay higher up the pitch.

Starmer in a pub with Angela Rayner
Keir Starmer and friends watching England play Serbia on June 16 - Facebook

But the England captain told Lineker and Shearer, along with other former Three Lions players, to be more responsible with their opinions and pointed out that pundits stood to gain from making noise on their podcasts.

Sir Keir Starmer has now weighed in, backing the England team and Kane.

Speaking to Talk TV, the Labour leader said: “I back the England team on this I think. Look, they’re in the middle of this competition, and a really important game coming up. Let’s just get behind the team.”

Gary Lineker with a BBC Sport microphone
Gary Lineker has been criticised for calling England 's---'

He added: “You know, we’ve done this before, England. [We never] have a particularly great start to these competitions. But then we click, we pull together. It’s a fantastic team and I am going to back them all the way.”

Responding to the criticism, Kane said he hoped he would never “dig out” England players if he moved into punditry, adding that the squad cared about the opinions of Lineker and Shearer.

Both Lineker and Shearer defended their views. Lineker said: “All you can do is call it how you see it and tell the truth. It doesn’t have to be personal.

“There are no personal attacks on anyone’s character, nobody has accused anyone of not trying, because we know the players will be devastated by it.”

Shearer added: “If we, or whoever it was on the panel, didn’t say it as it was, we get criticised for not telling it how it is. We did a good job in doing that.”

England are playing Slovenia on Tuesday in Cologne, in their final game of the group stages.

The team qualified for the knockout stage of the competition after Albania’s failure to beat Spain on Monday.