Gareth Southgate has broken from his normal protocol by giving Harry Kane a huge vote of confidence and confirming England’s captain will start against Czech Republic 48 hours before the final group game at Wembley, reports Matt Law.
England manager Southgate usually likes to keep his team selections, even involving his senior players, close to his chest and has only occasionally confirmed one of his picks on the night before a game.
But Southgate has taken the unprecedented step of telling Kane he will play on Tuesday night and publicly confirming it on Sunday, 48 hours before the Czech Republic game, after the 27-year-old failed to score in either of England’s opening two games.
Asked by ITV if Kane will start against Czech Republic, Southgate said: “You can assume that yeah, absolutely, I don’t mind giving you that one. He is our most important player, there is no doubt about that, you only have to look at his goalscoring record with us to see his importance to the team.
“He is fundamental not only for 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.
“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.”
Kane was substituted against Croatia and Scotland, and has now only scored two goals in his last 11 England appearances, but Southgate insists the striker retains his full confidence.
“In one of the games, we were already ahead and we needed energy, we needed to press and keep the lead and didn’t need additional goals,” said Southgate. “During the World Cup, we ended up with Harry playing a lot of football and we felt we needed to manage the load a bit this time and we have got good options on the bench to bring people into the game.”