ROB DRAPER: Gareth Southgate must make the right call and DROP Harry Kane against Wales… his ballooning ankle needs rest and England have no chance of World Cup glory without their captain in the knockout stages
- Harry Kane will be desperate to play against Wales but he must be dropped
- Gareth Southgate has a hard selection decision to make ahead of Tuesday
- The England captain is nursing an ankle ligament injury that needs rest
- Playing him against Wales could put him out of action for the World Cup last 16
Harry Kane will always want to start for England. Harry Kane also wants to break Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record (which he will). He would love that to happen at the World Cup.
But Harry Kane also has an ankle which balloons in size to protect its damaged ligaments after around 15 minutes of hard running. As such, this isn’t a decision for Kane. It is time for Gareth Southgate to step in and tell him he is not playing.
England didn’t come here to qualify for the last 16. Their goal is to win the World Cup. And they have no chance of doing that if they don’t have a fit Kane.
Harry Kane will be determined to start in Tuesday’s huge World Cup clash with Wales
The England captain is nursing damaged ankle ligaments that cause his foot to swell
You cannot run freely with a swollen ankle. You cannot strike the ball as cleanly as normal. You can do OK, you can make a contribution to the team.
But you cannot be the Kane that England need.
‘Listen to your body’ is a maxim among athletes for a reason. There is no short-cutting (not legal ones, anyway) the physiology of a damaged ligament. Trying to ‘run it off’ only stores up damage for later. The body doesn’t care if it is the World Cup. Rest is the only way to allow healing.
This isn’t English arrogance. They are not resting Kane because Wales are mediocre. It is because he is injured. There is no conceit in that.
Southgate must drop the Tottenham striker to prevent further damage to his goalscorer
Kane (middle) joined in with his England teammates during Monday’s training session
England are — barring an embarrassment that would make Iceland in Euro 2016 seem like a minor setback — in the last 16. It is not especially important that they finish top of the group. It is important that Kane recovers. Only then can they achieve their stated goal.
This is not the same as Euro 2020, where Kane looked under par until he opened his account against Germany. Of course you do not lose faith in Kane because he has a quiet game.
The best goalscorers score goals, even if they have seemingly done nothing for 89 minutes. This is about allowing him to be in his best form.
Kane (right) is hoping to become England’s all-time leading goalscorer at the World Cup
Kane should be rested to save him for the knockout stages with England in the Middle East
A week’s rest between the USA game and the last 16 at least gives the body a chance to recover.
On this occasion, do not listen to Harry. Leave him out. Because England need him.