Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane was hailed as 'one of the best English players' by Watford manager Javi Gracia, whose side face Spurs on Monday evening at Wembley Stadium.
Quoted by the Daily Mirror, Gracia sounded deeply unimpressed by the ridicule that the England striker has faced in his increasingly desperate campaign to claim his third successive Premier League Golden Boot.
The Hornets boss said: “I respect all opinions in football, but my opinion is that Kane is one of the best English players for sure. I don’t mind whether he claims goals or not – he is one of the best. Strikers want to score with every touch and I show him only respect."
Discussing the possibility that Kane could captain the Three Lions at this summer's FIFA World Cup in Russia, Gracia added: "With goals or not, with the captaincy or not, I’m sure he will show what he can do in the Premier League and he will also show it at the World Cup."
Kane has netted 26 league goals so far this season, five behind the Premier League's leading scorer Mohamed Salah.
However, Spurs have four more league matches this season, whereas Salah's Liverpool have only two - one of which is an awkward trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea.
🗣️ | “The most important thing is not where we play, but trying to do a good work & get a good result.”— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) April 29, 2018
Javi Gracia looks ahead to #watfordfc's trip to @wembleystadium to face @SpursOfficial.
Read here ⤵️https://t.co/vEeDpqy5Y3 pic.twitter.com/iTdUh2mCSW
The England star will certainly relish the opportunity to add to his impressive tally against the Hornets, who have the third-worst defensive record in this season's Premier League. He will also be hoping for a Spurs win, with fifth-placed Chelsea just two points behind their London rivals.
As for Gracia - whose Watford side have 38 points and could still mathematically be relegated - he is desperate to end two dismal runs. The Hornets have gone six league games without a win (including four defeats), and seven away matches in all competitions without a goal - their last away goal coming in a 3-1 loss against Manchester City.
Speaking about his side's dismal scoring record away from Vicarage Road, Gracia said: "We need it – we need a goal away from home.
"All players, especially strikers, live by goals and it would be good to score at Wembley, get a result and break this bad relationship we have with away goals," he added.