As Jose Mourinho gloomily confessed that Harry Kane might not return to competitive action until “April, May, next season”, nobody will have been more disheartened at the news than England manager Gareth Southgate. With England ominously becoming favourites to win Euro 2020 it is a body blow. Harry Kane’s injury means that, at best, he’s likely to be lacking match practise and, at worst, won’t be able to play at all. With that in mind, who might be in the frame to replace him in England’s attack?
Marcus Rashford – The Golden Boy
For a while it looked as though Rashford might become the next victim of the media’s insistence on overhyping every talented, young Englishman who emerges in the Premier League. Apparently if a young player isn’t dubbed the next Batistuta, Rooney, Ronaldo or Messi then they aren’t any good.
Unfortunately, Rashford became a victim of his own success after a dream start to his career. He scored twice on his Manchester United debut against FC Midtjylland and repeated the feat on his Premier League bow against Arsenal a few days later. He scored in his first EFL Cup game, his first Manchester derby and on his England debut.
It was a dream first season. However, after Jose Mourinho’s appointment in May 2016, Rashford stalled. Five goals in his first 11 Premier League appearances was followed by 12 goals in the next 67. It seemed as though Rashford would be another star to shine brightly but briefly.
However this season, with Jose gone, Rashford is back . Notching 14 Premier League goals from 22 appearances, he is joint second in the Premier League scoring charts. If Harry Kane’s injury keeps him out of Euro 2020 then Marcus Rashford, who already has ten England goals, is probably first choice to replace him. However, he will have a fight on his hands from…
Tammy Abraham – The Rapid Riser
A year ago Tammy Abraham’s Aston Villa were 12th in the Championship and he had scored 16 goals in 27 games. One year on and Abraham’s Chelsea are fourth in the Premier League, with him scoring 13 goals and winning four England caps.
His sensational form sees him currently sitting level on goals with Sergio Aguero, who has just overhauled Thierry Henry, and just four behind the Golden Boot leader who is also on this list.
Owing to Abraham’s relative lack of Premier League and international experience compared to Marcus Rashford, it’s probably fair to say that he is a place behind him in the international queue. However, he is one who might see Harry Kane’s injury as an opportunity. If Rashford is the obvious replacement, Abraham will expect to be at least second behind him.
Danny Ings – The Comeback Story
Well, who saw this coming? After netting 11 goals in his first Premier League season for Burnley, Winchester native Ings earned an unlikely move to Liverpool. It’s fair to say it didn’t go particularly well.
Making six appearances in his debut season at Anfield, Ings suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his first training session under new manager Jurgen Klopp. When Ings finally returned to action he turned out for The Reds another eight times before they loaned him to Southampton, a move which was made permanent last summer.
However, this season he’s found some sensational form. 14 goals in the Premier League puts him joint second in the Golden Boot race alongside Rashford and puts him ahead of any of Liverpool’s heralded front three. It also means that the top three goalscorers in the Premier League are currently English. England managers rarely have such a wealth of attacking riches.
Ings actually won a solitary England cap back in 2015. However, with Harry Kane’s injury certain to keep him out of England’s friendlies against Italy and Denmark in March, Ings will hope that his performances will earn him a chance to add to that tally. Probably unlikely to claim a starting spot but definitely a contender for a squad place. His main competition might come from…
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – The Late Challenger
We drop a bit further down the scoring charts to find the Everton youngster, who has netted eight times this season. However, he is entering form at just the right time.
With three goals in five games under new manager Carlo Ancelotti, it’s fair to say the veteran Italian has been impressed. He said;
“He is a fantastic striker in my opinion. Fantastic with the head, clever in the box, and sharp. But he’s young and for this reason he has to improve. He is a humble guy and he doesn’t talk a lot. I think he is going to be at the top in England and in Europe. He has all the qualities to be a top striker.”
High praise indeed from a man who has managed the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andriy Shevchenko and Didier Drogba.
Probably vying with Danny Ings for a final striker’s spot in the squad, Calvert-Lewin will need to continue his form until the end of the season if he is to capitalise on Harry Kane’s injury and make the squad.
Jamie Vardy – The Veteran
The final name on the list also happens to be the oldest and the Premier League’s top goalscorer. However, to Jamie Vardy, age is just a number. The 33-year-old is enjoying the season of his life, scoring an outrageous 17 goals in 20 games so far, firing Leicester to third in the Premier League.
Unfortunately for Gareth Southgate, Vardy retired from international football after Euro 2016 in a bid to prolong his playing career. On this evidence, it was the correct decision.
However, if Harry Kane’s injury does rule him out, who better to replace him than the hugely experienced, 26 capped and in-form Leicester striker. Would the former-England star be tempted to make a one off return to lead the line for his country again?
It would probably involve Gareth Southgate picking up the phone and asking him very nicely to reconsider his retirement, which in itself seems unlikely. Additionally, the England manager is clearly youth orientated, so the idea of using a 33-year-old as a quick fix might not appeal if it was deemed to block the path to one of the youngsters.
However, if England’s striking situation becomes desperate then don’t completely rule it out.
Other options: Callum Wilson, Mason Greenwood, Troy Deeney, Jay Rodriguez, Theo Walcott, Dominic Solanke, Danny Welbeck