England take on the Czech Republic at the Sinobo Stadium, Prague, later today (Friday, October 11th), knowing that a win will guarantee their qualification to the 2020 European Championships with three games to spare.
England have been impressive in qualification to date, winning all four games played and scoring 19 goals in the process. Whilst their Group cannot exactly be described as high quality, they have, nonetheless, done all that’s been asked of them so far – including a 5-0 drubbing of their opponents tonight at Wembley Stadium back in March.
Of those 19 goals, striker Harry Kane has tallied 6. An impressive total in four games, but it has to be noted that included in that total there are three penalties – and one was also missed in England’s last game against Kosovo.
But, such has been the recent form of Kane, that there are growing clamours for him to be dropped for the game tonight, to be replaced by Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham, with England boss Gareth Southgate keen to play players in form – and showing confidence in his young guns, who are showing fine form in their domestic leagues. Mason Mount is likely to start after starting the season on fire for Chelsea, Jadon Sancho now seems to have made his place his own, Fikayo Tomori has been called up and could well start alongside Harry Maguire at the heart of the England back four, whilst Declan Rice holds his place in midfield to boot.
Abraham celebrated his call up to the England squad in style, notching a fine goal (above) in Chelsea’s convincing 4-1 win at Southampton – right after scoring in the Blues Champions League victory against Lille. The goal at St Marys Stadium took his season total to 9 (in all competitions) and is currently tied at the top of the Premier League Golden Boot table with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero. His confidence is high, and has shown a fine link with colleague Mount – both taking to Premier League football under boss Frank Lampard like ducks to water after impressive seasons on loan in the Championship.
In isolation, Kane is also in good form. He has scored 4 games in his last 5 starts for Spurs – but, again, half of those were from the penalty spot, and in Spurs last outing against Brighton, Kane looked a shadow of his usual self. Kane didn’t manage a shot on target in that game, and seemed shell shocked, lackadaisical and way off the pace after the mauling given by Bayern Munich of a few days earlier.
There is no doubt that Kane remains England’s number 1 striker. It seems unlikely that Southgate will rest his striking talisman despite recent events. But if ever there is a time to give Abraham a chance, surely tonight is it.
HARRY KANE – ENGLAND FACTFILE
- Age : 26
- England Debut : vs Lithuania (27 March, 2015)
- Total Caps : 41
- Total Goals : 26
- Penalties Scored : 8
- Number of Starts : 34
- Substitute Appearances : 7
- Times Substituted : 10
- Yellow Cards : 1
- Red Cards : 0