SUPPORT: Southgate backs Kane and urges fans to get behind players
PA - Nick Potts
Gareth Southgate backs Harry Kane and urges fans to get behind players after England received criticism following the 0-0 draw with Scotland.
Kane was one of the players on the receiving end of criticism following the stalemate with the Scots but Southgate has confirmed the Three Lions captain will keep his starting spot for the game against the Czech Republic.
“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.”
Fans should get behind players
Southgate understands England fans’ frustration after the drab goalless draw with Scotland but said “managing the tournament” at Euro 2020 was key on Friday.
While the Tartan Army celebrated wildly after giving their last-16 hopes a boost, a number of unsatisfied Three Lions supporters booed at the final whistle at Wembley.
“In the end, not enough to win but this is a tournament and it’s critical when you can’t win not to lose,” the England manager said.
“That of course feels difficult in the last 15 minute of a game like tonight where fans are desperate for you to go forward and abandon all shape because of course it’s Scotland, it feels like a unique occasion.
“But we have to still approach it in the context that a point is still an important step towards qualification and ultimately qualification is the first objective for us.”
Analysis - Stick with Kane
The calls to drop Kane seem a little reactionary. His class is undeniable and he is just coming off a season in which he not only scored the most goals in the Premier League but created the most as well. Without being too disrespectful, the like-for-like replacement in Dominic Calvert-Lewin has nothing like the same pedigree as Kane. You wouldn’t expect France to drop Kylian Mbappe or Portugal to drop Cristiano Ronaldo.
The key for any striker is good service and during the game on Friday, it felt like the midfielders and full-backs of England were loathe to put the ball at risk. Perhaps this is where the changes are needed for the game against Czech Republic. Breaking the lines is necessary for any good attacking team and the likes of Jack Grealish in midfield or Kieran Trippier at full-back may be better suited at doing just that.
Either way, Southgate backs Kane and he is going to be lining up against the Czechs on Tuesday.
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