WITH Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling set to lead the line for England in their World Cup opener tonight, one south Essex footballer has recalled the time he took to the same field as the fearsome duo.

East Thurrock United defender Ryan Scott, who has also appeared for Billericay Town, played alongside England captain Kane in his youth at Tottenham Hotspur and against Sterling when he was in the colours of Barnet.

And the 24-year-old from Brentwood said he fancies both to be key players for England and is glad he won’t be marking them.

“I remember playing with Kane and against Sterling,” said the central defender.

“Sterling was at Queens Park Rangers when I was playing for Barnet about seven or eight years ago and they had a good side compared to us.

“He was frighteningly quick and scored at least two hat-tricks against us in different matches from what I remember. I resorted to trying to boot him in the end, I think in one game he had to come off!

“But it didn’t surprise me when Liverpool picked him up and he scored four on his youth team debut. Then he’s just gone from strength to strength.

“He doesn’t deserve all this criticism he has been receiving from the press [regarding a tattoo of a gun on his leg in dedication to his father]. [Manchester City manager] Pep [Guardiola] has pushed him on another step but I just hope he can do it in an England shirt now.”

Scott has actually beaten Kane in the Essex School’s Cup final while playing for Shenfield High School.

Kane was turning out for Chingford School, but it was Scott’s team who were victorious on penalties in the final.

But he says Kane’s talent was clear to see at school and in the Tottenham Hotspur under-16 team.

“He pulled a lot of strings in that cup game and I remember our goalkeeper making a good save from a Kane free-kick in the 94th minute to keep it level and send the game to extra-time,” said Scott.

“He used to play as an attacking midfielder as opposed to a striker and I remember how good his passing range was and how he was able to strike the ball better than most players at that age.

“For Spurs, I probably played five or six games with him as he was always playing at the next step up for the youth team.

“He used to score a lot of long distance goals.

“What he has already achieved is incredible and he could break a lot of records, along with the ones he has already broken.

“It’s not just his skill and physical presence but his thinking that he used to help him get the better of opponents, especially when he was playing in midfield.

“He never used to be anything above average size or strength so he used it to his advantage.

“I hope he can find the net like he does for Spurs as we struggle for goals in big tournaments and can’t break teams down.”

England play against Tunisia on ITV1 tonight, kick-off at 7pm.