Nizhniy Novgorod, Wednesday @PeopleSports11
Gareth Southgate is ready to give Harry Kane (pictured) the chance to surge ahead in the race for the Golden Boot against Belgium on Thursday night.
The England manager will make changes to the team who beat Panama 6-1 and admitted he would leave out Kane if he felt it would benefit the team ahead of next week’s last-16 clash.
However, Southgate is mindful of his prolific striker’s ambition to finish as the World Cup’s top goalscorer and is ready to play the Tottenham striker in Kaliningrad.
‘As a manager you have to think of the whole squad and then your second thought is for individuals and their own situations,’ said Southgate.
‘That is a really complex balance in any business where you are managing people. But I am sure we can get that right.
‘He is the captain and he knows he will be judged on how far we go as a team. He wants to contribute to a winning team and he knows it is not as satisfying if you are a player scoring goals and the team does not win.’
The manager recognises Kane’s goalscoring prowess offers England the best opportunity to win the game, which will decide who finishes top of the group.
The 24-year-old leads the goalscoring charts with five, ahead of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku, both on four.
But with Portugal having already played all three of their group games and Lukaku set to miss the clash with England due to an ankle injury, Kane has a chance to extend his lead.
His Spurs team-mate Danny Rose is also set to play, having so far been used for just 20 minutes against Panama.
Kieran Trippier trained fully on Thursday after a thigh injury scare in the game against Panama but Southgate will consider resting his right wing-back.
The fact Kyle Walker and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have picked up yellow cards and risk suspension will also be considered by Southgate.
Fabian Delph will travel to Kaliningrad with the rest of the squad despite the pending birth of his baby. -AFP
He is, however, due to return to England for the birth after the game against Belgium before returning to Russia.
Meanwhile, Rose is set for a change of heart as he prepares to fly his family out to the World Cup. The defender revealed ahead of the tournament that he had forbidden his loved ones from coming to Russia because he expected racism.
But the left back admitted he had been pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere.
‘Yes, if I manage to get in the team at some point, I may change my mind,’ he said.
‘It’s been really quiet. The weather’s amazing. I haven’t had much time to go out into St Petersburg yet, but from what everyone says, it’s beautiful.’