Southgate happy England’s support attackers taking pressure off Harry Kane

  • Captain yet to score but he has contributed three assists
  • ‘We need to share the goals around and we’re starting to do that’

Gareth Southgate has talked up the impact of England’s support attackers at the World Cup and how they have relieved the goalscoring burden on Harry Kane.

Southgate has seen his captain and lead striker draw blanks in the team’s three group games, just as he did at Euro 2020. Back then Kane found his range in the knockout rounds, scoring four times as England finished as runners-up.

The key difference is that Kane has contributed to the collective effort here, having laboured in the group stage at the European Championship.

The World Cup statistics show he has yet to register a shot on target from four attempts and he missed two good chances in the 0-0 draw against the USA in England’s second match.

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But Kane set up two goals in the 6-2 win against Iran and one more in the 3-0 victory against Wales which carried England into their last‑16 tie against Senegal on Sunday. He is chasing Wayne Rooney’s record of 53 England goals – Kane is stuck on 51 – but Southgate is delighted at how his other players have stepped up.

Marcus Rashford is in Golden Boot contention with three goals and Bukayo Saka has two. Jude Bellingham, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden have one apiece.

“It was the same in the Euros with Harry,” Southgate said, with regard to the lack of group-phase goals. “He has three assists now, three important assists from moments of real quality. We’ve been saying for a couple of years now we need to share the goals around and we’re starting to do that.”

Southgate will pore over videos of Senegal but says he already has a good knowledge of them. The African team, without the injured Sadio Mané, will miss Idrissa Gueye because of a suspension for two yellow cards.

“They are a team I have seen enough of,” Southgate said. “I saw them play Iran in September [a 1-1 draw] and, even without Sadio, they have got good players, they are well organised. It will be similar to the games we’ve had in our group, the USA one for example. A lot of Senegal’s players play in Europe and their style is pretty controlled. We will watch a load of tapes of them because that is how we get our kicks.”

Meanwhile, Ben White has left England’s camp and returned home for personal reasons, the Football Association has confirmed. The 25-year-old defender was included in Southgate’s squad following an impressive start to the season with Arsenal. He did not feature in England’s first two Group B matches and missed the win against Wales on Tuesday through illness.

“Ben White has left England’s training base in Al Wakrah and returned home for personal reasons,” read an FA statement. “The Arsenal defender is not expected to return to the squad for the remainder of the tournament. We ask that the player’s privacy is respected at this moment in time.”


David Hytner in Doha

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