Premier League players have come under “unfair criticism” during the coronavirus pandemic, says England captain Harry Kane.

Last month health secretary Matt Hancock said players should “take a pay cut and play their part”.

“We’ve shown we’re doing everything we can to help support the NHS, charities and everyone who is struggling during this pandemic,” Kane told BBC 5 Live.

“We came under a bit of scrutiny and probably unfair criticism at times.”

In an interview for BBC Radio 5 Live’s The Friday Football Social from 19:00 BST on Friday, Spurs striker Kane paid tribute to front-line workers during lockdown.

“From delivery drivers to care workers and doctors to shop workers, they have been amazing,” Kane added. “Everyone is doing so much work behind the scenes that not everyone sees.”

Last month Premier League players launched a “collective initiative” to help generate funds for the National Health Service and distribute them “where they are needed most”.

On 31 March, Tottenham announced that all 550 non-playing staff were taking a 20% pay cut, initially for two months.

The club reversed the decision to use the current job retention scheme for some non-playing staff on 13 April following strong criticism from supporters.

Only the board, including chairman Daniel Levy, who earned £7m last year, is taking salary reductions.

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho has been volunteering in Enfield to help the elderly vulnerable during the pandemic.

League Two Leyton Orient announced on Thursday that Kane, who played for the club on loan from Spurs at the start of his career, had agreed to sponsor their shirts next season – and donate the space to three good causes.

The club’s home strip will carry a message of thanks to front-line workers tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

‘I’m taking positives from lockdown’

Kane was recovering from a hamstring injury which had kept him out since 1 January when the Premier League was suspended indefinitely.

He believes he could have been struggling to be fully fit had Euro 2020 – which has been postponed until the summer of 2021 – taken place next month.

“I wouldn’t have had as many games as I would have liked or as much training as I would have liked to really get to my highest level,” he said.

“I’m trying to take the positives. This period has given me a chance to recover a bit more.

“Before lockdown I was at the stage where I was pretty much doing everything except training with the team.

“The last week or so I have been able to do one-on-one training with one coach on the pitch. It’s a case of getting that feeling back and doing a lot of individual training and finishing.”

‘Shocked and angry’

Kane said he had been in touch with team-mate Dele Alli, who was held at knifepoint during a burglary in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

“He was a little bit in shock and angry at the situation,” he said.

“It’s definitely scary and hits home a bit more when it’s one of your friends.