Gareth Southgate admitted Harry Kane felt some discomfort in his right foot during England’s 0-0 draw with the USA, although the head coach stressed he was not gambling on his captain’s fitness by starting him.
Kane has a long history of ankle problems and he faced an anxious wait after being caught out by a bad foul by Morteza Pouraliganji during England’s 6-2 win over Iran last Monday. The striker has been cleared after having a scan and took part in full training before kicking off on Friday night.
However, the 29-year-old forward failed to make an impact during a tepid stalemate at the Al Bayt Stadium. Kane missed two good chances and Southgate admitted the Tottenham forward was in some pain when he struck the ball, which was perhaps evident when he missed an early opportunity from close range.
“No gambling,” Southgate said when asked if playing Kane was a risk. “He had a knock on his foot, so there’s a little bit of discomfort when he hits the ball, but we’re not talking about anything that was a risk in any way, shape or form.”
The draw with the USA means Southgate is unlikely to rest Kane against Wales on Tuesday. England will qualify for the last 16 as long as they avoid a heavy defeat against Wales, but they still need to top Group B. Kane will also be desperate to play after failing to score in his first two games in Qatar.
In an ideal world, Southgate would be able to rest several players against Wales. Competition for Kane’s place comes from Callum Wilson and Marcus Rashford, who played on the right after coming off the bench for Bukayo Saka against USA, while England need to build on the match fitness of Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker. Phillips and Walker have recently returned from injury but it would be a risk to start them against Wales.
After naming the same starting XI against Iran and the USA, Southgate will look to revamp his side in their final group game. “We have to see where the energy levels are and the best way to approach the game,” Southgate said. “We are in a strong position, but we want to win the group. We still have a little bit to do to make sure we qualify.”
Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Rashford will be in contention to start in attack and Jordan Henderson could come into midfield. Henderson, who did an individual indoor session at training on Saturday, impressed after replacing Jude Bellingham, who struggled against the USA.
“We can’t roll Jude for 90 minutes every game,” Southgate said. “We have to look at him and Hendo has trained very well. Tactically, it was a complicated game in midfield. Jordan’s organization and intelligence and experience was something we felt could help us.”
England have been boosted by James Maddison’s return to training. The Leicester midfielder is out with a knee injury and should be on the bench against Wales.
“James hasn’t really trained with the squad so I don’t think he’s likely to be in a position to start, but he’s more positive and hopefully he’ll be an option for us,” Southgate said. “We have to consider whether refreshing certain positions will be so important. We have a good squad and these games take a lot of people out.”