Home » DANNY MURPHY: If England aren’t going to play to Harry Kane’s strengths then he should be RESTED

DANNY MURPHY: If England aren’t going to play to Harry Kane’s strengths then he should be RESTED

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DANNY MURPHY: If England aren’t going to play to Harry Kane’s strengths then he should be RESTED against Wales… Marcus Rashford and Callum Wilson are waiting in the wings and deserve their chance to shine

With England all but qualified, Harry Kane should be given a rest against Wales on Tuesday because he didn’t look right against the USA. And when he returns fresher for the knockout stages, I’m hoping the England captain’s role is refined.

I’d stop him retreating into his own half except when defending set-pieces because there was too much of that on Friday night. We also want to use him more as an out ball. Other countries have gone long in this World Cup to mix it up but for some reason England rarely do when we’ve got one of the best target men in the business.

I understand why Gareth Southgate took the risk to select Kane against the USA, even though it was England’s second game in five days and he had a foot problem. He is our captain, leader and best goalscorer and it was a very important match to win and get out of the group.

England captain and star striker Harry Kane is yet to score at the World Cup in Qatar

Callum Wilson is one option to replace Harry Kane upfront for England

Marcus Rashford could get his first start of the tournament on Tuesday

Callum Wilson (left) and Marcus Rashford (right) should start against Wales on Tuesday instead

He played as if he was carrying an injury. Now we’ve got the result that virtually guarantees us a place in the last 16, it would be sensible and logical to give Kane a break.

Callum Wilson or Marcus Rashford down the middle are more than good enough to play the Welsh and we need Kane for bigger tests ahead.

We know Kane is a wonderful technician and penalty area player but one thing I hope we learn from the USA game is that, when we’re not playing very well, it’s fine to play a bit longer up to him.

I’ve noticed more of that tactic at this World Cup from other countries. I just hope because of our history England are not trapped into thinking we have to play good football all the time. 

England boss Gareth Southgate needs to make changes for Tuesday's clash with Wales

England boss Gareth Southgate needs to make changes for Tuesday’s clash with Wales

Ggoalkeeper Jordan Pickford (right) should try going long to find Kane if he keeps his place

Ggoalkeeper Jordan Pickford (right) should try going long to find Kane if he keeps his place

We have a 6ft 2ins centre-forward good enough to jump with the best in the world. I’d like to see Jordan Pickford telling his back four to get lost in certain situations and play a 60-yard pass up to Kane. 

I don’t think we play enough percentage balls. We looked a little one-dimensional against the USA in always trying to play out through the lines.

I’m a huge fan of good football but the best teams always give themselves options if you’re not playing well. Manchester City do it with Ederson and in the past, how often did Teddy Sheringham create a goal with a flick-on? There is nothing wrong with Harry Maguire or Kieran Trippier playing the odd long ball.

Harry Kane (right) didn't look himself in Friday's stalemate with USA

Harry Kane (right) didn’t look himself in Friday’s stalemate with USA

Another thing that frustrated me was seeing Kane in our own 18-yard box and not just when the USA had a corner. I’d be telling him I never wanted to see him in the defensive half. I’m sure he was only trying to help his defence when he spotted danger. But don’t do it. Stay up the pitch and concentrate on your core job.

There will be a backlash to the poor USA performance but, having been a player, I’ve seen the pattern before. When you are praised to the hilt like England were against Iran, there is often a comedown. 

Subconsciously England may have felt the USA would roll over as well but that was never going to happen. They have possibly the most athletic midfield at the World Cup in Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah and Tyler Adams.

I watched the game with Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer, who know what it takes to go deep in tournaments and they were saying there is always one game when you’re not at it. It often follows a really good performance and the trick is then to manage the situation and not lose. That’s what England did, with Harry Maguire and John Stones excellent.

Going forward, I hope Southgate doesn’t abandon the 4-3-3 for the rest of the competition. Regardless of the last game, it is the best way for this group to play. I don’t think there is any team in this World Cup so good that England need to play three centre-halves.

The Three Lions skipper (left) should be rested when we face Wales on Tuesday

The Three Lions skipper (left) should be rested when we face Wales on Tuesday

If you come up against a particular problem, for example facing Kylian Mbappe in a quarter-final against France, bring in Kyle Walker, but as a right-back rather than an extra central defender.

In the context of the group, a draw against the USA was fine because of our goal difference from the opening match.

Friday’s game was a little bit like after the Lord Mayor’s show. Everyone would have been ecstatic with the showing against Iran and it’s a challenge to quickly go again with the same intensity and creativity.

In the circumstances, our professionalism in seeing the game out was encouraging. It showed Southgate’s team have learned from previous tournaments. We didn’t panic, go gung-ho and end up losing, which would have been a disaster.

Wales suffered a disappointing loss to Iran in their second game of the groups stages

Wales suffered a disappointing loss to Iran in their second game of the groups stages

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