England manager Gareth Southgate has dismissed talk of a club-versus-country row following Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane’s withdrawal from his squad.
Kane, the Premier League’s joint-top scorer, pulled out of England’s squad to face Germany and Brazil in friendlies after sustaining a knock in Spurs’ 1-0 win over Crystal Palace last weekend.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino subsequently said he expected Kane to be fit to face Arsenal on November 18, but Southgate dismissed suggestions the striker had put his club before his country.
“I knew Harry Kane was in trouble (against Palace) because he stayed down. Harry Kane doesn’t stay down,” Southgate told a press conference at England’s St George’s Park training base in Burton-on-Trent on Thursday. “Both him and Harry Winks were scanned. Our medical department reviewed both scans and no way were they available for our two games. Spurs might risk them for the game with Arsenal, but it’s a different matter. I’m hearing this talk of club v country and it’s a nonsense. The players are injured and cannot play.”
Southgate’s preparations for Friday’s friendly against Germany at Wembley have been disrupted by a raft of withdrawals. In addition to Kane and Winks, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Fabian Delph have also pulled out of the squad, while defender Gary Cahill sat out training on Thursday with an unspecified injury. Southgate is expected to award a full debut to Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the uncapped 21-year-old Chelsea midfielder who is currently on loan at Crystal Palace.
He has also called up Everton defender Michael Keane, uncapped Burnley midfielder Jack Cork and West Bromwich Albion’s Jake Livermore as cover. England’s last game against Germany, a 1-0 friendly defeat in Dortmund in March, was marred by a small number of England fans who booed the German anthem and sang songs about World War II.