Harry Kane may be England’s key attacker, but the threat of him potentially missing their second World Cup match against the United States was perhaps not as concerning as it once might have been.
Three Lions captain Kane hobbled out of a dominant 6-2 win over Iran in the team’s Group B opener.
Kane had supplied two assists in that victory, but he did not get on the scoresheet and England was not lacking for options in front of the goal.
Five different players found the net; only in 2018, when Kane won the Golden Boot and was one of six England scorers, have they had more across an entire World Cup.
Nine players were involved in goals, the most for any team in a finals match since Yugoslavia versus Zaire in 1974.
Kane is expected to be fit to play against the USA, yet Callum Wilson had an impact from the bench in the Iran game and scored his only international goal to date against England’s next opponents in November 2018.
Jordan Pickford was certainly unconcerned as he cited Wilson as an example when backing his teammates to step up.
“I think everyone will take their chance,” he said. “When Harry came off after about 70 minutes, Callum came on and played well.
“[Wilson] got the assist for Jack [Grealish], was very unselfish, and gave Jack his goal.
“I think everyone is training hard, everyone is here for a reason – to play football.”
England has been boosted by the news that captain Harry Kane has not suffered a serious injury to his ankle following a scan on Wednesday – the 29-year-old has since trained with the first-team squad and is expected to retain his place up front.
Southgate could name the same starting lineup that began against Iran, with Harry Maguire – who has recovered from illness – set to keep his place in the back four alongside Kieran Trippier, John Stones, and Luke Shaw.
Kyle Walker appears to be fit to feature against the USA and has taken part in training after recovering from groin surgery, but the Manchester City defender is not expected to start, with an appearance off the bench to build up match fitness more likely.
James Maddison is yet to return to training with the Three Lions due to a knee problem and the playmaker remains doubtful for Friday’s clash, with Bellingham, Declan Rice, and Mason Mount all poised to start again in center-midfield.
As for the USA, Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah came off with respective groin and toe problems in the draw with Wales, but the midfield duo should be fit to retain their places in the first XI alongside captain Tyler Adams.
Indeed, Adams is one of eight British-based players at club level in Berhalter’s squad, and the Leeds United man is set to start in front of a back four consisting of Fulham duo Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson, while Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner should keep his place between the sticks.
Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic is expected to continue in the front three alongside Timothy Weah and Norwich City’s Joshua Sargent, although Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna will be hoping to force his way into the attack after watching on as an unused substitute last time out.
Leeds’ Brendan Aaronson and Celtic’s Cameron Carter-Vickers were both named on the bench against Wales, with the former coming on in the second half, and both players are set to begin as substitutes again on Friday.
Players to Watch
England: Bukayo Saka
Saka was brilliant in netting twice against Iran, adding to Jude Bellingham’s opener to make this the first example of two players aged 21 or younger scoring in the same World Cup game for England.
Should either Saka or Bellingham net again, they would become the youngest England player to score in consecutive matches at the finals. Saka certainly looked capable of adding to his tally.
USA: Timothy Weah
George Weah never played at a World Cup, but his son Timothy now has, and he scored against Wales. That was his second goal in four internationals, as many as in his first 22 United States outings.
Weah Jr. will be bidding to become only the third USA player to score in the first two matches of a World Cup campaign – also Bert Patenaude in 1930 and Clint Dempsey in 2014.
With or without Kane, our supercomputer expects England to fare just fine. They are given a 60.1% chance of making it two wins from two in Group B.
The United States has a history of upsetting the Three Lions, though, even if the model rates them as an outside 18.8% shot. A repeat of 2010’s draw is rated at 21.1%.
England Has a 60.1% chance of winning this match.