Paul Merson calls for huge Harry Kane decision ahead of England vs Senegal
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Though, before claims of club bias arise, Merson’s claim doesn’t have anything to do with form or the other options Southgate has at his disposal. The striker is in the midst of another compact season, and Merson believes Kane needs a little rest if England are to go on to enjoy a longer run in the tournament.
“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.”
It is a tough call for Southgate, who won’t want to risk dropping out at the Round of 16 stage. Senegal are not to be unerestimated, and England can ill-afford to lose to the energetic and bullish African side at this stage of the competition.