Gareth Southgate has confirmed Harry Kane will start England’s Euro 2020 clash against the Czech Republic.
The England skipper has failed to have a shot on target in the opening two Group D games and was substituted off in both the win over Croatia and Friday’s goalless draw with Scotland.
Kane won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup and ended the recent Premier League season as the top goalscorer and with the most assists.
He has adapted his game in the past year and now drops deeper to get involved in the play – something that has worked at Tottenham but has seen the chances dry up at international level.
Despite that, Southgate has revealed Kane will start on Tuesday night with England needing to beat the Czech Republic if they are to advance as winners of Group D.
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“You can assume that, yes, absolutely,” Southgate replied when asked if Kane would keep his place.
“He is fundamental not only to the goals he scores but the build-up play and everything else he brings.
“I know there will be a lot of questions being asked about him at the moment but he has been through that 100 times before and I have answered that in this role several times in the past and he has come up with the goals that have won us the next games and I expect that to be the same moving forward.”
Southgate also went on to explain why he had taken Kane off in both matches so far this summer and hailed the 27-year-old striker as his key man.
“In one of the games we were already ahead and we needed energy to press and keep the lead, we didn’t need an additional goal,” he told ITV Sport.
“Harry, during the World Cup, we ended up with him playing a lot of football and we’ve felt the need to manage that load a little bit this time and we have got good options on the bench to bring people into the game.
“But he is our most important player, there is no doubt about that, you’ve only got to look at his goalscoring record with us to see his importance to the team.”
1:37’Kane’s form a huge concern’Sky Sports News’ Rob Dorsett says there will be concerns about Harry Kane’s form after the opening two games of the tournament.
Sky Sports News’ Rob Dorsett says there will be concerns about Harry Kane’s form after the opening two games of the tournament
Harry Kane insists that neither a lack of fitness nor speculation over his future at Tottenham have been the reasons for his disappointing start to Euro 2020.
Kane was substituted in England’s opening win over Croatia and their underwhelming 0-0 draw with Scotland following below-par performances in both games.
The England captain’s displays have come as a surprise given he enjoyed an impressive season with Spurs, topping the Premier League charts for goals and assists, despite his club’s struggles.
While he did sustain a couple of ankle injuries during the campaign, he returned from the most recent of those nearly two months ago, and was a regular for Spurs until the end of the season.
Kane won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup – a factor that has only added to expectations on him at Euro 2020 – and although he admits he became fatigued in Russia three years ago, he says that is not the problem this time around.
“Gareth (Southgate) is within his rights to make the changes he thinks are best for the team,” Kane told The Guardian when asked for his reaction to being replaced in both of England’s games so far.
“What we’ve learned over past tournaments is about trying to peak at the right time. The best time to be peaking is in the knockout stages and hopefully kick on from there.
“Maybe in Russia there were times, towards the quarter and semi-final, when I wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be. In the end we didn’t get to where we wanted to go, maybe partly for that reason.
“It’s about managing the squad, making sure everyone is feeling as fit and sharp as possible. In my case, it was a tough couple of games and it’s about making sure I’m right for the rest of them.
“I didn’t have any issues. I didn’t feel physically I wasn’t up to it. I felt going into those games as good as I’ve felt all season, if I’m honest.”
0:40What’s up with Kane?Former England manager Steve McClaren says a lack of service is the main reason for Harry Kane’s struggles in front of goal.
Former England manager Steve McClaren says a lack of service is the main reason for Harry Kane’s struggles in front of goal
Sky Sports’ Pete Gill
There was a suggestion or two prior to Euro 2020 that Harry Maguire rather than Harry Kane was England’s most important player, because the Manchester United captain was the one performer they could not do without this summer.
Two matches in and Maguire’s absence in the event of successive clean sheets is beginning to pale in potential consequence compared to England’s worrying Harry Kane problem.
Even the shocking stats of Kane’s contribution, or lack of, against Scotland only tells half the tale. Yes, there were only 19 touches. No, there really was not a shot on target all night prior to his substitution. But what was even more alarming was the pedestrian and ponderous style of his display. ‘Leggy’ is the standard football vernacular. ‘Slow’ is the word in everyday-speak. In an England display that lacked intensity and zip, Kane was the embodiment.
There was a particularly concerning moment in the second half when Luke Shaw broke into the box. The England left-back only had a brief moment to assess the situation and look for support. What he would have seen was a wall of blue in front of him. Where was Kane? On his heels, statuesque, unreachable at the back post behind two Scotland defenders. Understandably, Shaw went for the shot, and he could hardly be faulted for it when the ball sailed harmlessly wide. As for Kane, the lack of movement and the lack of threat was most definitely un-Kane-like.
0:20Trippier: Kane’s hard work can go unnoticedKieran Trippier has backed England captain Harry Kane to soon get off the mark at this summer’s Euros and believes the striker’s hard work for the team can go unnoticed.
Kieran Trippier has backed England captain Harry Kane to soon get off the mark at this summer’s Euros and believes the striker’s hard work for the team can go unnoticed
Is he carrying an injury? Or has he simply been weighed down by expectation?
The other question to be asked, inevitably, is whether Gareth Southgate would dare omit Kane from the starting line-up against the Czech Republic on Tuesday. Surely not. Southgate, after all, is instinctively loyal to his players – an outlook which was amply rewarded just a week ago when Raheem Sterling scored the only goal against Croatia.
But any question about Kane’s position in the England team misses the point, or at least the point of the problem. Because England’s problem is not merely or simply that they have a player out of form. The far bigger problem is that without an in-form Kane, it’s very difficult to see how England go much further. What we saw on Friday night was England without Kane, and it was not pretty.
They cannot do without him.