Paul Merson reckons England would be better off if Gareth Southgate dropped Harry Kane for their World Cup match against Senegal.
The Tottenham striker is yet to get off the mark on the goal front but he has contributed three assists towards England’s nine goals at the tournament, including a lovely ball across the face of goal for Phil Foden in their 3-0 win over Wales.
However, Kane has faced some criticism from some supporters and pundits for dropping too deep with fans urging him to get in the box more.
And Merson reckons England should drop Kane for their next match aagainst Senegal as the Tottenham striker is “seriously lacking sharpness”.
“Harry Kane just loves to play football but I really think he would have benefited from sitting out against the USA or Wales,” Merson told the Daily Star. “He is now seriously lacking sharpness.
“He may have the most assists at the World Cup but England need him in the box. There is simply no chance Gareth Southgate’s side will win the tournament without Kane in the goals.
“But I just feel like with his fitness at the moment, he needs to sometimes consider saying: ‘You know what, I can’t play in this game.’
“You only have to look at Tottenham’s recent League Cup defeat at Nottingham Forest to realise Kane wants to play in every football match but now he doesn’t look 100% fit.
“Sometimes you become a better player when you’re not in the team and that would have been the case against the USA or Wales.
“All of a sudden there are calls for Callum Wilson to start because he looks sharp off the bench. Wilson is a good player but he is nowhere near the level of Kane, it’s just because the captain is struggling.”
England topped Group B with seven points from their three matches and now face Senegal in the Round of 16 and Merson reckons it will be a “difficult, difficult football match”.
The former Arsenal midfielder added: “I think this is a hard game. I know Senegal are missing their best two players in Sadio Mane and Idrissa Gueye – which is the equivalent of us losing Kane and Declan Rice – but they are still a very decent team.
“I would have rather played against Holland. That might sound daft but this is a difficult, difficult football match. The calibre of opponent has now increased massively and England will need to be on their A game.
“Senegal will be physical and strong but they’re also quick. They’ve got skill. Trust me, don’t underestimate them.
“We have to play the Premier League way, that’s the only way we are going to win the World Cup. If we play quickly, I think we have every chance.”
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