Gareth Southgate admits it would be brave to leave Harry Kane out against USA

Harry Kane is expected to be fit to face USA (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)
Harry Kane is expected to be fit to face USA (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)

Gareth Southgate admits he would have to be a brave man to leave Harry Kane out of his team to face the United States after the England captain trained following an injury scare.

Kane underwent a scan on his foot after a heavy challenge during England’s opening World Cup win over Iran on Monday.

He played on for 25 minutes before being replaced by Callum Wilson but then had precautionary scans after leaving the stadium with light bandaging on his foot.

The Tottenham striker trained at England’s Al Wakrah training base on both Wednesday and Thursday and Southgate revealed he is fit to start against the US at Al Bayt Stadium on Friday evening.

Asked if Kane would be in the team, Southgate replied: “Harry’s good.

“He came through training no problems so yes, it would be a brave decision to leave him out of the starting team!”

Having Kane available could be crucial for England, who cantered to a 6-2 win over Iran to start their tournament with a bang.

But, having faced the US twice in previous tournaments, England are still without a win.

Defeat in 1950 still ranks as arguably the biggest World Cup upset of all time and the nations also drew 1-1 in 2010.

Southgate wants his players to make history by changing that record and claimed England often speak about their achievements without any real results to back it up.

“Have we ever beaten the States in a major tournament? No, I didn’t think so,” he added.

“Tomorrow we have to try and make history, number one. We are good at that, we are good at talking highly of ourselves as a nation on the basis of very little evidence.

“So what we’ve got to do is perform on the field and we know that we’ll play a highly motivated team but we’ve got huge respect for our opponent.”

If England do achieve victory, it would ensure qualification for the round of 16 and would be enough to seal their progression as winners of Group B should Iran and Wales play out a draw earlier on Friday.

Southgate is looking to go one better than at last summer’s Euros, where England lost the final on penalties to Italy, three years on from reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

He believes his players are putting the nation back on the footballing map following such progression.

“We feel that we can be competitive for years to come and that has to be the aim really, to have a sustained challenge in the latter stages on the big competitions, we haven’t done that for years and years,” he added.

“These players are putting our country on the map really. They are regaining our respectability on the world stage and we’ve got to keep doing that.”

One player that could have been a part of Southgate’s current crop but would slip through the net is Yunus Musah. Musah, 19, committed his international allegiance to the United States having represented England Under-19s in October 2020.

He played in friendlies for the US senior team the following month and opted to play for the country of his birth instead of sticking with England.

Asked what US coach Gregg Berhalter had done that impressed him, Southgate added: “Well, firstly, they have been very proactive on recruitment if you like, talent identification – obviously they took one of ours, which we weren’t very happy about but, fair play!

“With Yunus it was a strange situation because he was in our Under-19s and we went into the pandemic and lockdown so it wasn’t possible to travel and see games so he was a player that at that stage I had not had a lot of contact with in the junior teams.

“One or two of the others I knew a little bit better and that decision was made before I had the chance to get to know him well. We have a few players like that where the players weren’t actually born in England.

“Jamal Musiala (Germany international) was another one, but the guys that came the other way – Jack Grealish and Declan Rice (from the Republic of Ireland) so in the end you have to go with your heart and where you see yourself.”