Harry Kane ‘happy to play’ in England friendlies, but does Tottenham Hotspur forward need a rest?
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Spurs striker has struggled with his fitness in recent weeks and came off against Crystal Palace with a slight ankle injury
The fact that Harry Kane is the talisman for England as well as Tottenham Hotspur is a source of pride for everyone at his club, and the Spurs striker has every chance of being given the national captaincy on a permanent basis.
Yet, as Gareth Southgate gathers his Three Lions squad together for the friendlies against Germany and Brazil in the next eight days, a number of Lilywhites supporters would probably prefer that Kane was not there.
It is entirely understandable that Southgate would want his top players present for this meet-up as the World Cup looms on the horizon.
He intends to play with three at the back, and that change of system will need work on the training ground. He will also want to see how his senior men fare against sides who will be aiming to win next summer’s tournament.
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On the other hand, Kane has only just shaken off the hamstring strain that forced him to miss the trip to Manchester United nine days ago, while he also got a kick on the ankle in the first half of yesterday’s 1-0 home win over Crystal Palace, which was still smarting when he was withdrawn in the 77th minute.
A fortnight off would probably do him the world of good and there would doubtlessly be concern and irritation at Hotspur Way if Kane was now asked to lead the line throughout England’s friendlies.
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Mauricio Pochettino said after Sunday’s match: “It’s a difficult situation for everyone. For us, we are focusing on our problems and our injuries but I also understand completely what the national team wants and needs.
“The most important thing is that the national teams, including England, understand the needs of our players and help them so they will be fit when they return here.”
For his part, Kane said: “The knock in the first half was still niggling. It was a sore one. The manager makes the decisions for the team and he obviously thought it was the best decision [to take me off].
“The hamstrings are fine but look, we’ve got keep an eye on it. It’s something that happened and we don’t want it to happen again. It’s about maintaining it. It’s a long old season so we go away now and do a bit of work and hopefully get ready for Friday [against Germany].
“It isn’t my call [how much I play for England], it’s down to Gareth. Gareth will make the decision based on what he thinks is best for the players and the team.
“If I’m fit and called upon I’m happy to play. It’s always an honour to play for my country so I’d never turn that down, so we’ll see what happens.
“We play so many games and we’ve had so many high-intensity games – United, Madrid, Liverpool – it takes it out of you. The manager does his best here to keep everyone in the best shape possible and I’m sure Gareth will do the same.
“Do I need a break? I don’t think so. I’m in the same boat as everyone else. We play a lot of games, you have to deal with it and make sure you’re fit. Away from football, the recovery is just as important and that’s what I’ll try to do.”
Kane was unable to find the net against Palace but Heung-min Son stepped up to the plate and scored a 64th-minute winner to ensure Spurs edged past the basement boys and avoided a disappointing comedown after Wednesday’s memorable victory over Real Madrid.
“We knew it was going to be like that,” said Kane. “We’ve had a few games like that at Wembley this season where teams drop off and try to catch you on the counter-attack, so we’re delighted with the win. It wasn’t too fancy but it’s job done and we go into the international break happy.
“It was always going to be difficult to get the atmosphere going as loud as it was on Wednesday and get that tempo going again. But I thought we moved it well, we had a couple of chances in the first half.
“But so did they, it was quite even and in those sorts of games the first goal is massive. ‘Sonny’ got it with a fantastic finish and we ground it out well in defence. I’m delighted for Paulo [Gazzaniga] too. He was fantastic in goal so it was a good day.
“Those sorts of games are the ones that can trip you up now and then. We’ve found a way to win and it’s important. Earlier in the season we drew here to Burnley. Those are the sort of games you need to win 1-0 and move on. We did the same against Bournemouth. We’re very happy and it gives you momentum going into the break.
“It’s just little details. It was a great finish from Son and in those big moments you need to step up. We’ve done that all the way through - the goalkeeper has made some great saves at vital times. That’s all we can do, take those big moments and turn them in our favour.”
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