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sympathy Roy Keane suggests San Marino should not be competing on big stage after England hammering

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Emile Smith Rowe of England celebrates with Harry Kane after scoring their team's seventh goal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between San Marino and England. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Emile Smith Rowe of England celebrates with Harry Kane after scoring their team's seventh goal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between San Marino and England. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Emile Smith Rowe of England celebrates with Harry Kane after scoring their team's seventh goal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between San Marino and England. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Roy Keane suggested San Marino should not be playing against England as Gareth Southgate's men qualified for the World Cup finals with a thumping 10-0 away in in their final qualifier.

Harry Kane scored four times to draw level with Gary Lineker on 48 goals in England's all-time scorers list, but the scale of the mismatch in San Marino left former Ireland captain Keane asking questions of the credibility of the contest.

"I felt sorry for San Marino," declared Keane on ITV. "They shouldn't be on the same pitch as England. Physically and in every aspect of the game, I just felt sorry for them.

"What can their manager say to them before the game? Come on lads, we can do it? They can't. It's not helping them.

Pre-qualifying for international sides in the lower reaches of the FIFA rankings has been mentioned as a potential route to reduce the number of international matches in the calendar, with Keane suspecting San Marino are not getting too much from the experience.

"I'm sure they are proud to play for their country, but nobody wants to get hammered in every game they play. It must be heart breaking for them," he stated.

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Roy Keane (Nick Potts/PA)

Roy Keane (Nick Potts/PA)

Roy Keane (Nick Potts/PA)

Keane went on to suggest England will now be real contenders to win next year's World Cup finals, after reaching the semi-final of last tournament in Russia in 2018 and backing that up a run to the final of Euro 2020 last summer.

"With the players they have got the potential of that squad, England to to get to the World Cup and believe they can compete," added Keane. "They need to fulfil the potential of that squad, but it is going to be really tough playing a World Cup in Qatar in November."

Meanhwhile, England captain Kane expressed his satisfaction as he moved to within five goals of equalling Wayne Rooney's all-time scoring record for his national team.

"Every time I wear an England shirt I'm proud, whenever I can score goals it's one of the greatest feelings I can have in my career, so nice to be amongst those people and hopefully we can keep them coming," said the Spurs striker.

"We still need to keep working, I feel like we've been improving year on year, obviously with the World Cup then the Euros, so just making the most of the time, we haven't got a lot of time before the next one so using every training session, every match we can to fine tune the little pieces.

"Hopefully mentality has been building over the years and then we can take that into the World Cup now.

"It came to the last game, we expected to win tonight but we've done a great job and as you've seen in other groups, it's not easy to qualify, kind of when we win the games people write off the opposition but to go through is a fantastic feeling."

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