Southgate non-committal on Kane role against Wales following foot injury

By Sports Desk November 28, 2022 285

Harry Kane is fit to face Wales, but Gareth Southgate stopped short of confirming the England captain would start.

Kane sustained a foot injury in England's World Cup opener against Iran, only to recover in time to lead the Three Lions out again against the United States.

The Tottenham forward struggled to impact that goalless draw, however, and there have been calls for him to be dropped for the final group game against Wales.

England are not yet through but would have to lose by four goals at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday to fall short of the knockout stage.

Discussing his team selection, Southgate outlined the need to "balance freshness with stability".

Ahead of playing the United States, the England manager said it would be a "brave decision" not to start Kane, but he spoke with far less certainty when that quote was repeated back to him on the eve of the Wales match.

In response to that question on Kane, Southgate said: "We're going to pick a team that we believe can win the game. That's our priority always.

"[Kane] is fine in terms of the knock he's had. We keep saying it's his foot and [everyone else] keeps saying it's his ankle. It's his foot.

"He's trained well. In the whole group, it's only Ben White missing with illness.

"We've got pretty much everyone to select from, which is a great position to be in. It makes decisions difficult, of course, but you want a fully fit squad. That's where we're at."

Even if Southgate does alter his line-up, there is unlikely to be a repeat of the eight changes made between the second and third games in Russia four years ago, when England were already through.

"It's always a challenge, and of course we've got 26 players," the England boss said. "But we're at a major tournament, and it's not about giving caps out. We're here to try to go as far as we possibly can."

Southgate added Wales "seem to have additional motivation to play against England", describing it as "a great sporting rivalry, no more than that – [although] the feeling may not be mutual".

He has no issue with Wales' determination to beat their rivals, though, with Kieffer Moore having said at the start of the tournament he "cannot wait" to knock England out.

"He's entitled to say whatever he wants leading into a game," replied Southgate. "I'd be amazed if he didn't feel that way.

"We've got to just focus on what we're about, preparing for the game in our normal way. We've got to bring our quality to the game and composure and play with the tempo that makes our team really difficult to play against.

"It's pointless us focusing on what's said before the game. We've got to go on the pitch and play well."

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Last modified on Monday, 28 November 2022 12:58
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