After a lacklustre display against Croatia in England’s opening Euro 2020 game, the England captain’s anonymous and pedestrian performance against Scotland has prompted growing concern about his form.
Kane had just 19 touches – the fewest he has ever made in an international fixture – during his time on the pitch and failed to produce a single shot on target.
“Harry Kane looks leggy, he’s not up to speed, on his heels all the time,” Roy Keane told ITV. “If England are to compete in this competition, they are going to need their star men to perform. I’m glad Gareth [Southgate] took him off, he’s wasn’t performing. Kane is a big problem.”
Fellow Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness was equally unimpressed.
“He looks a shadow of the player we know he is,” said Souness. “He looks leggy and lacking enthusiasm. He’s not getting a great deal from England’s midfield, which isn’t working, but Harry looks tired and jaded. This is a guy who might have a big move this summer; he needs to wake himself up.
“Is he carrying something? But Kane is England’s one proven goalscorer at this level. If he is not scoring goals, you are in trouble.”
Despite substituting Kane for Marcus Rashford as England sought a breakthrough, England boss Southgate sought to defend his captain.
“We have got to look at the whole performance and our use of the ball. It wasn’t about one player,” said Southgate.
“I thought Scotland marked him extremely well. Anything that was played up, they were aggressive and defended well.”
Neville: Scotland better all over the pitch
“It was a really poor performance from England, there is massive disappointment in Wembley. England’s physical levels were poor, Gareth will be wondering how he fixes that for the next game.
“Was the expectation too big for England? Sometimes that can mentally take it out of you. England never won the ball high up the pitch, Scotland’s midfield was better to a man, all over the pitch Scotland were better.
“There was something missing tonight. Was it the expectation of playing Scotland at Wembley? Something has got to them in their heads that meant that physically they were completely gone on the pitch. They were nowhere near it: no pressurising, no urgency on the ball, slow passing – everything that you wouldn’t want, we saw from England tonight.”
Shaw: Kane will come good
Luke Shaw has hailed England captain Harry Kane as the “best striker in the world” and insists his goalless start to Euro 2020 should not be a concern.
Having won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup and ended the last Premier League season as the division’s top scorer, Kane’s pedigree is not in question.
But, in dropping deep to get more involved in the play, he has not had a presence in the opposition box in either game at Euro 2020.
Asked if he was worried about Kane’s performances, left-back Shaw replied: “No concern at all, for me personally I think he is the best striker in the world.
“He is a very important part of the team, in fact the most important part. I think whether he has not been at his best or not he is a massive part and a crucial player for us.
“We need him whether his performances are as people expected or not, but this happens in tournament football, you can score a goal at any moment and he is such a crucial player – not just on the pitch but off the pitch, he has got all of our backing and I’m not worried at all.”
Twenty five years on from their last tournament meeting, Scotland sprung an upset of sorts with an encouraging 0-0 draw against England that keeps their Euro 2020 hopes alive. Alice Piper is joined by Luke Shanley, Jess Creighton and Peter Smith to examine exactly where Scotland got it right, before conducting the inquest into England’s toothless display.
It was a Wembley performance for Scotland to savour as Steve Clarke’s selection earns alibis from supporters and lays the foundation for Tuesday’s “must-win” showdown with Croatia. But what’s gone wrong with Harry Kane? Will Gareth Southgate drop his captain against the Czech Republic? Is it time for Jack Grealish?
We also hear from Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes to reflect on Wales‘ triumph over Turkey in Baku before looking ahead to Sunday’s final group game against Italy in Rome.
Scotland are back at Hampden Park for their final group game against Croatia on Tuesday. England take on the Czech Republic at Wembley on the same day. Both games kick-off at 8pm.
While England’s current haul of four points should see them progress as one of the four best third-placed teams even if they lose to the Czech Republic on Tuesday, they need at least a draw to be absolutely sure of progressing and only a victory will be enough for them to go through as winners.
As for Scotland, nothing less than a victory over Croatia will be sufficient for them to have any hope of making it through to the last 16.
If Scotland win and England and the Czechs draw, Scotland should go through as one of the four third-placed teams.