Tottenham Hotspur hero Harry Kane is reportedly expecting to start England’s third and final World Cup group game against Belgium on Thursday as he looks to further his chances of finishing the tournament with the coveted Golden Boot award.
With England already safely through to the knockout rounds after victories over Tunisia and Panama, there had been suggestions that manager Gareth Southgate could rotate his team to rest certain key players and give some game time to others.
But the latest on the situation from The Guardian is that Kane ‘expects’ to be in the team that walks onto the field in Kaliningrad and is ‘confident’ that he will get that chance.
Southgate has admitted that individuals do come into his thought process, although his first call is always to make decisions that are best for the squad as a whole.
“As a manager you have to think of the whole squad and then your second thought is for individuals and their own situations, and that is a really complex balance in any business where you are managing people. But I am sure we can get that right,” the boss explained.
Belgium have been tipped to make several changes for the game, with Romelu Lukaku carrying a knock and three others, including Kevin de Bruyne, carrying yellow cards.
Whether England first or second in the group, they will face one of Senegal, Japan or Colombia in the Last 16, with Group H still very open. But it will dictate which side of the draw they go into.
Winning the group could mean a quarter final meeting with Brazil, who put England out at that stage in 2002, while finishing second could mean a quarter final against Mexico, who England have beaten by an aggregate score of 12-1 in their last four encounters.
Ultimately, any team wanting to win the World Cup will have to beat the best at some stage.