|Host country: Qatar Dates: November 20-December 18 Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Daily TV programs – Full coverage details|
I am very happy that Harry Kane has been declared fit England to take on the United States, but we have to look after him – and Gareth Southgate could still turn to Marcus Rashford to take the lead if he doesn’t want to risk his captaincy.
Kane has been able to train after an ankle injury in our 6-2 win over Iran and a scan showed that there is no serious damage, but it was a reminder that we need to think about who would replace him in Qatar if necessary – and I’m happy with our options.
The most obvious plan B is to put Newcastle striker Callum Wilson up front as he plays for his club in the center and he can at least play some of the provider role that Kane does so well.
I was so happy with Wilson’s decision to pass to Jack Grealish on Monday for our final goal rather than taking a chance myself, and that’s the kind of collective thinking Southgate will love.
If he thinks we need some kind of board against the US or any side – a player we can nurture so he can game other people in – then Wilson is the best man for the job.
We know that Southgate chooses players he trusts
However, I still think Rashford will get the award when Kane gets a rest on Friday. From what we know about Southgate’s management style, there is a pecking order in his squad based on players he trusts.
We’ve seen that with his selection of the likes of Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount, and Bukayo Saka now falls into that category too – when he’s fit, he starts. The same goes for players who are also outside his first choice XI.
With what Rashford has done for England in the past and the goals he has scored, he is likely ahead of Wilson, who has only just returned to the squad after a three-year absence.
We know that Rashford is more effective in a wide position and prefers to play on the left side of Manchester United’s attack, but his pace is still a threat in the centre.
I have faith in him and in Wilson so I honestly don’t think it matters much who our centre-forward is against the US – we should win either way – but we will definitely need Kane if we face tougher opposition. get make.
He has been criticized for falling deep for England in the past, but we saw against Iran how well it fits into our system, with runners chasing him and down both flanks. Neither Wilson nor Rashford can do exactly what he does.
Some of Kane’s crosses against Iran were so good, he reminded me of David Beckham, who delivered the best deliveries in the penalty area of anyone I saw during my playing days.
The one he put in for Sterling was on par with Becks at his best, so fingers crossed he’s fine for the rest of the tournament.
Should England change anything?
There is an argument that if Kane is fit we should stay with the same team that scored six times against Iran – obviously no one deserves to be dropped after that – but I have a feeling Southgate might want some minutes for Kyle Walker to give. .
Walker has not played since he suffered a groin injury in the Manchester derby on October 2 and we were told he was not fit for the first game in Group B.
Southgate will switch to back three at some point during this tournament and when he does Walker will appear on the right side of that trio. That’s why he’s here, but he needs time on the field to regain his focus.
We may not see that system change against the US, but whatever the formation, I wouldn’t be surprised if Walker starts at right back. If he’s close to fit, he’ll definitely show up at some point.
|Fri 25 Nov||United States||Al-Bayt Stadium, Al Khor|
|Tue 29 Nov||Wales||Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan|
I think it’s great that we have already involved so many players and that people have impressed against Iran from the bench.
For two of the substitutes, Rashford and Grealish, scoring was really perfect and of course Wilson put one up too.
Of the 26-man squad, 16 have already taken the field and they will all feel they have contributed.
The unique conditions of this wintry World Cup have kept the players in peak condition since they are in the middle of their own season, and it feels like Southgate are doing their best to keep them buzzing by involving as many of them as possible. It’s just the right thing to do.
More pace and accurate passing, please
So far I’ve talked about everything from an England point of view – who we could bring in if Kane goes out, and anything that suits our side’s needs in the tournament as a whole.
I certainly don’t think Southgate will change his squad or formation specifically to deal with the opposition; his decisions are on our terms because I don’t feel we need to worry about how the US will hurt us.
Again, this game is all about breaking the opposition, and they will offer another test to Iran, who sat on the edge of their own penalty area and allowed us to dictate play in their half.
Pressing high, on the other hand, is almost the mantra of the US, and it should be a useful game for us to develop the way we beat their press and work the ball forward, moving through every part of the court.
We’ll have to find the right balance between Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham going deep to get the ball off their defenders and making sure we get Bellingham forward too.
The fluidity in our movement and the way we passed so quickly and precisely was one of the best things about Monday’s performance.
If we do that again, we win – and book our place in the last 16 with a game to spare.
Martin Keown spoke with Chris Bevan in Doha.
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