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England boss Gareth Southgate has given a strong vote of confidence in his captain and main striker Harry Kane, who he insists will start against Czech Republic on Tuesday.
The Tottenham striker has fallen short of expectations in his nation’s opening two matches of the tournament, and he did not register a shot on target against either Croatia or Scotland.
The 27-year-old was substituted in both matches in the second half as he appeared to look off the pace in both encounters.
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford replaced Kane in the latter stages of both games while it has been suggested that Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton could also start.
Harry Kane has yet to reach top form for England at Euro 2020
(Image: The FA via Getty Images)
There have been calls for Southgate to rest Kane in the final group game against Czech Republic, with qualification from the group almost ensured for the Three Lions.
Despite Friday night’s underwhelming scoreless draw against Scotland, Southgate’s side are in a remarkably strong position to qualify from the group and can no longer mathematically finish bottom of the group.
England can finish anywhere between first and third in the group standing, while they could still advance to the knockout stages as one of the four strongest third-placed finishers should they lose to the Czechs, with Scotland beating Croatia at Hampden Park.
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There are no doubts about the strengths of Southgate’s side defensively – they have kept four clean sheets in succession.
The side’s attacking potential continues to come under question though with just three goals in their last four matches and registering only one shot on target against Scotland at Wembley.
There have been suggestions that rotations will be made to the starting line-up – particularly in attack – in acknowledgement of these struggles.
Should Harry Kane be rested for England against Czech Republic? Comment below
Calvert-Lewin and Rashford will both have been hopeful of making starts for their nation, while Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho and Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish are others who are pushing for a starting role.
However, Southgate has insisted that Spurs captain Kane will remain in his starting line-up and will lead the line against the Czechs at Wembley.
Southgate told ITV reporter Gabriel Clarke: “He’s our most important player. He’s fundamental not only because of the goals he scores but with everything else he brings to the team.”
Kane enjoyed a remarkable goal scoring campaign at club level for Spurs in 2020/21 – netting a remarkable 33 goals across all competitions, despite the team struggling to find form after a bright start to the season.
The striker thrived in his attacking partnership with Heung-Min Son – the two stars linked up regularly in both goals and direct assists throughout the campaign – and it has been suggested that the system around Kane needs to be right.
Son’s pace allowed Kane to drop into a deeper role and dictate play from a playmaker position, leading to suggestions that the likes of Sancho and Rashford may be ideal for him to play alongside at international level.