If Harry Kane is out, who should England turn to against USA? CHRIS SUTTON assesses Plan B options


If Harry Kane misses out, who should England turn to against USA? CHRIS SUTTON breaks down the four Plan B options Gareth Southgate will be mulling over… with Callum Wilson, Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford hoping to come in

  • Harry Kane is facing a race against time to be fit for England’s clash with USA
  • The Three Lions captain suffered an ankle injury in Monday’s win over Iran
  • Sportsmail’s Chris Sutton has looked at England’s Plan B options in his absence
  • Callum Wilson is the most obvious candidate to replace Kane in attack
  • But Marcus Rashford, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling could also play centrally 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

England boss Gareth Southgate has been left sweating over the fitness of captain Harry Kane ahead of Friday’s clash with USA.

While initial scans appear to suggest he did not suffer major damage to his ankle in Monday’s opening World Cup win over Iran, Kane is facing a race against time to be fit for England’s second outing.

Southgate now has a big decision to make heading into Friday’s match. Either he trusts in the assessment from his medical team and deploys Kane as his focal point in attack once more, or he errs on the side of caution and rests his star striker for more crucial evenings.

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England captain Harry Kane is facing a race against time to be fit for Friday’s clash with USA

Kane picked up an ankle injury in England's opening World Cup win against Iran on Monday

Kane picked up an ankle injury in England’s opening World Cup win against Iran on Monday

So if he chooses the latter option, who can England turn to in Kane’s absence?

Sportsmails CHRIS SUTTON has taken a look at the four Plan B options Southgate has in attack against USA and assessed which of them would be most effective on Friday night.

The most obvious solution for Gareth Southgate would be to bring in Callum Wilson up top

The most obvious solution for Gareth Southgate would be to bring in Callum Wilson up top

Wilson was included in Southgate's squad as a backup option for Kane

Wilson was included in Southgate’s squad as a backup option for Kane

Striker for striker. There have been a few England games in which Harry Kane did not start and generally, Gareth Southgate has gone with a like-for-like replacement.

Against Italy, Tammy Abraham took his spot. Against Ivory Coast, it was Ollie Watkins. Against Andorra, it was Patrick Bamford. None of them are at this World Cup, but Callum Wilson is – and he was brought to Qatar so he could play in this very scenario. 

If Kane isn’t fit, Wilson is there to deputise. They’re different players, obviously – Kane is close to irreplaceable. 

But Wilson is fast and physical and has a good goalscoring instinct. He would be the obvious choice. 

Marcus Rashford would also be capable of operating in a more central attacking role

Marcus Rashford would also be capable of operating in a more central attacking role

When Marcus Rashford came on against Iran, he was used in a wide role and scored after a lovely lay-off from Kane. That will have done wonders for Rashford’s confidence. 

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He has been used as a centre forward for Manchester United but the 25-year-old has said playing off the left is his favourite position. Nevertheless, Rashford will do whatever Southgate asks of him. 

Hell, England’s manager could ask me to hand out the half-time oranges and I’d do so. 

Rashford is fast. If the USA push up the pitch, like they did in that first half against Wales, his pace could be useful. Rashford isn’t a bad option, but Wilson is the likelier choice. 

Rashford is fast and that pace could be useful against USA if they push high up the pitch

Rashford is fast and that pace could be useful against USA if they push high up the pitch

Phil Foden has been used as a false nine by Man City on occasions and could also slot in there

Phil Foden has been used as a false nine by Man City on occasions and could also slot in there

Southgate is fortunate he has players who are versatile, giving him options if he wants to go in a different direction to a traditional centre forward. 

We have seen Phil Foden used as a false nine for Manchester City in the pre-Erling Haaland days, acting as a creative link between Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez. Kane likes to get involved in build-up and Foden isn’t bad at that himself. 

He’s tidy, he’s mobile, he knows when to drop deep and can make killer runs in behind the opposition back line.

But it would be asking a lot of Foden to do this in a World Cup game. This would be a total wildcard for England.

But it would be asking a lot of the youngster to perform in this role at a World Cup game

But it would be asking a lot of the youngster to perform in this role at a World Cup game

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Raheem Sterling could take up a more central position with City team-mate Foden on the right

Raheem Sterling could take up a more central position with City team-mate Foden on the right

When Kane didn’t start the 3-0 win over Ivory Coast in March, Raheem Sterling stood in as captain, took up central positions close to Watkins, assisted one and scored another. Like Foden, he has acted as a false nine in the past for Manchester City, so it wouldn’t be totally alien to him. 

Sterling’s Chelsea form has not been the best but he had a strong game against Iran and should start against the USA. If he is used as a false nine, as amazing as that decision would be, Foden could fill the gap on the left flank. 

But I can’t shake the sense that Wilson would feel undervalued to see this front three when he’s at this World Cup to be Kane’s Plan B. 

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